5 Eco-friendly Ways to Celebrate the Holidays
The holidays are such a warm, loving time - to spread this joy from our hearts to others is the essence of the holiday spirit. But with a mindful approach, we can extend this even further by bringing to awareness the impacts we make on the planet. An environmentally-friendly holiday season is the most sacred gift that our Mother Earth (and all of us, as we are interconnected) could truly ask for.
With approximately $75 billion spent on Christmas gifts, 1.9 billion cards sent, and 20.8 million Christmas trees cut in the U.S. alone, the impact of this one holiday is immense. While worldwide information is hard to come by, the Australian Conservation Foundation reports a minimum of 2,285,000 tonnes of greenhouse pollution contributed to Christmas in Australia alone! - Sustainable Baby Steps
1. Consume mindfully.
A holiday gift isn't about how expensive or how much of something you give somebody is. It is always the thought that counts, and I assure you - it is always about quality, not quantity.
Slow down: think before you purchase. Avoid gifts that will eventually turn into "excessive stuff" that we'll find ourselves donating to the thrift store or selling at the next yard sale.
Again, it's quality - not quantity. Make every gift count. Make each gift meaningful with value and love. Those are the best gifts anyway, no?
2. Get creative: give DIY or homemade gifts rather than buying gifts
As mentioned, the best gifts are those that are well thought-out and personal. Get creative and make your friends some lovely gifts that are homemade with love. Things like bracelets, aromatherapy oils, incense, home-made cookies, a letter - anything that is considerate and personal for the receiver.
3. Re-use holiday ornaments, decorations, and gear
In reality, ornaments and holiday decorations could and should be a one-time buy, meaning you buy them once and they should last you your entire life (excluding lights). If you store them carefully during off-seasons, they should be reusable. This can go for gift wrapping as well. You can maybe re-use gift wrap a couple times, use recycled wrapper, or ditch gift wrapping altogether. Again, don't let things turn into excessive waste: step away from the mentality of "oh, I could buy new stockings next year" etc.
4. Recycle your Christmas Tree + Plant a Tree!!
Real Christmas Trees are biodegradable so they can be reused and recycled. Check with your city or town government for Christmas tree drop off areas, which are often set up near recycling centers. The trees are typically sent through a chipper to be used as mulch for parks and green areas. Some cities have designated Christmas tree pickup days and times, so make note of those. This removes the burden and mess of transporting it yourself.
5. Let go: Pass old gifts on to another with love
This might seem a bit voodoo-y or weird-karma to some, but it's actual a beautiful concept if you can be open to it. I read a book called The Magical Art of Tidying Up, which talks about how we can think of all things, even objects and "stuff" as having energy.
Say you have a lovely notebook you got from a friends two birthdays ago, but it's been forgotten about, sitting on your bookshelf collecting dust for the past years. Would that book be happier sitting there collecting more dust for the years to come, or would it enjoy a new owner who will put ink to the paper with love and gratitude?
If you have excessive "stuff" lying around that you can't quite toss because it was a past gift, pass it on. Smudge it with some sage, give it love, and let it go.