How to be environmentally friendly over the holidays


Father and daughter recycling for the holidays. Photo credit: Getty Images – Ryan J Lane

The holidays, although fun, can be very unsustainable when it comes to being eco-friendly. However, there are some ways to be more environmentally conscious when celebrating the holidays and new year. Some people may think that it is hard and that the changes needed to make an impact are not worth it but there are small things that we can all do to change the world and make it a more green place to be.

1) Gift ideas

Instead of giving unmeaningful, small and cheap gifts, there is nothing wrong with saving a little extra to get something that is bigger and more meaningful. Spending the extra money on gifts ensures their quality and lessens the amount wrapping paper that is needed. It cuts back the number of items that are purchased and can lead to a decrease of consumerism altogether. Another idea regarding gift ideas is perhaps spending money on gifts that can be experienced, not owned. Concert tickets, spa certificates, plane tickets, things that are not materialistic and can be shared with you and the people you care about and love.

2) Wrapping presents

Wrapping presents take up so much paper that is literally just used for display presents and then is thrown away the day after. Instead of using wrapping paper, invest in gift bags that can be reused year after year. They look just as beautiful but will sustain the environment more so than using wrapping paper year after year. Looking to go even further, and wrap presents in old newspaper, decorate it with paint and use it as a way to bond with family and friends while also helping to be more environmentally-green. Plus, it saves money.

3) Turn down the heat

Blankets are a thing and they not only create a super cozy feeling, but nothing is more Instagram-trendy than posting a picture of you and your pets cuddling in a blanket with some tea or hot chocolate. The truth is, in California at least, there isn’t a real need to blast the heat or fire all day every day for the entire break, Use the heater and fire for special occasions such as movie nights or holiday traditions.

4) Food choices

Food has a huge impact on the environment, and there is plenty of research to back up the correlation of how humans eat and the impacts it has on the environment. Choosing to incorporate less red meat and dairy into holiday meals can save not only a lot of water (almost 200 gallons per pound of beef, according to NPR) but it will also save a lot of methane gas from being released into the environment. Cows release methane through their burps and eating beef increases demand, therefore supply. Making choices through what we choose to put on our plates sends a message to the world at the same time that it saves it.

Environmental issues are everyone’s problem, and we no longer have the right to turn a blind eye to these sorts of things. Every day changes can help in little ways, it starts a movement that will influence change in our friends and families. The holiday season is the perfect way to de-stress and put energy toward bigger-picture issues.

Kendall George can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kendalmgeorge.