The holiday season is many things, but eco-friendly is not one of them. (Did you know that we could power 600,000 houses for a year with the amount of electricity wasted on holiday lights?!) When you take into account all of the presents we buy, miles we travel, and food we stuff in our mouths, you can’t help but notice how quickly it all seems to add up. Now, I’m not trying to Scrooge up your holiday season, but I think we should all be aware of the impact that “the happiest time of the year” can have on our environment.
Here are some of the more harmful holiday practices and how we can tweak them to make them more eco-friendly without any less holiday cheeriness.
Every year we all spend our precious time and money picking out the perfect gifts for our loved ones. Unfortunately, what may seem like the “perfect gift” to us may not be so appreciated by the recipient and end up as a throw-away by the time spring cleaning rolls around. Avoid this potential waste while saving your own time and effort and give them something they will actually use. Go for gift cards to their favorite stores so they can pick out something they’ll want.
Another idea is to stray away from buying “stuff” and give experiences to your loved ones instead. A massage at the local spa for your mom, tickets to the big game for your dad, or a backstage pass (slash nosebleed section ticket) to the Jonas Brothers for your little sis should do the trick. Plus, all of these gifts have the potential for you to include yourself in on the action (minus the J Bros, thanks). Happy holidays to you!
And if none of those ideas strike your fancy, there are tons of eco-friendly gifts that will make everyone – including Mother Earth – happy.
Keep the travel to a minimum:
While it’s great to spend time with loved ones during the holiday season, it can become a little exhausting for the family and for the planet. Spare your fam the holiday traffic, fights over the radio station, and tons of air pollution and keep it small. Instead of driving from family member to family member, invite them all to one place for a holiday dinner or small party. Not only will it reduce the stress of the holidays, it will also take a load off of the planet. If you just have to go see Aunt Edna this year, consider renting a hybrid car (Zip Car, the greatest business ever, has plenty for rental, either for a few hours or an entire day!) for the journey to save on gas and increased mileage on the family minivan.
Get off your butts!:
For some reason, “family time” during the holidays now tends to include TV, going to movies, or playing Wii tennis (thanks, Walmart commercials). My advice? GO OUTSIDE. For those of you lucky enough to have snow during the holidays, go build a snowman or have a kids vs. parents snowball fight like old times.
If a food coma’s got you feelin’ a little sloth-y, go on a leisurely walk around the neighborhood to check out the over-the-top decorations or stay in and play Apples to Apples. Not only will you save electricity and energy, but you’ll actually get to spend time with your fam that doesn’t involve your Mom’s awkward comments during Nights of Rodanthe about how Richard Gere is “such a hunk.”
Reuse your wrapping paper:
As much as I would like to think that I could convince you all to wrap your gifts in recycled newspaper, I know that’s just too tacky, even for us poor college students. The next best thing? Save wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, and gift tags for next year. This will cut down on holiday waste and save you a butt-load of money next year. Another great tip that I picked up from my Mom is to re-use all those holiday cards as gift tags for the next year. Just carefully cut around the writing to get some free, unique, and recycled gift tags for next year’s gifts.
What do you to green up your holiday?
Don’t be a Grinch – share your tips with the rest of us!