The holidays are, hands down, one of the most environmentally unfriendly holidays of the year. Pair that with Thanksgiving right before it and it makes me squirm just thinking about it.
Christmas comes fraught with environmental issues. Not only are consumers in a mania to get their kids a whole bunch of poorly made, plastic toys manufactured in plants that pump a ridiculous amount of chemicals into the air, but also, households ramp up their carbon footprints by using more water, cleaning products, electricity, and not to mention all of the food that is purchased, cooked, and wasted.
Plus, ’tis the season for flus and colds, meaning more people are taking antibiotics. It’s cold out, so we idle our cars for longer periods of time to get them warmed up and then idle while we wait for somebody else to make us food so we don’t have to get out of the car.
It’s an insane time of year, but contrary to popular belief, every tiny bit helps. Here are some things you can do to reduce your own carbon footprint this season and have a green Christmas:
Recyclable Wrapping Paper
The amount of wrapping paper that this continent uses is absolutely disgusting, and it’s a complete waste of resources and money. It’s literally meant to be ripped open, and do you really need that wrapping paper to have little reindeer on it? Probably not.
Instead of going that route, why not use recycled material to wrap gifts? Try some interesting newspaper stories – maybe your favourite of the year – or gift bags that you’ve kept from the year of gifts being gifted to you.
Anything is better than the stuff that you buy at Walmart.
Food Waste Doesn’t Have to Be Inevitable
The amount of food waste that goes on at this time of year is shocking. It doesn’t have to be inevitable, though. You can easily cut back on food waste by just buying fewer ingredients, or meal planning to use leftovers.
If you make a big turkey and have leftovers, you can use them for days afterward. Soups can be made and frozen and the carcass can be repurposed to make turkey stock.
Same goes for almost anything that you make – there are plenty of options which are way better than throwing them out. Don’t be one of those people!
Take It Easy On the Consumerism
I love buying my friends and family members gifts like the next person, because being generous and thoughtful is fun and rewarding. But we are so apt to go overboard in the developed world around Christmas, and it not only promotes an incredibly unhealthy relationship with “stuff”, it also is bad for the environment and our budgets.
Before you buy something for somebody, think about whether or not they will actually use it for a decent period of time to come. Will it end up cluttering their house and ultimately end up at the Salvation Army? If so, skip it. They don’t need it and nobody appreciates things that they don’t want or need.
It’s cliche to say nowadays, but it really is better to focus on experiences as opposed to things. Don’t forget that stuff doesn’t make anybody feel better or build good relationships, but spending time with people does, and it counts for a lot more.
It’s all of our responsibility to take care of our planet and we tend to lose sight of the importance of being green and environmentally friendly at this time of year.
The consumerism is definitely my biggest pet peeve of the holidays. A few useful things here and there are ok, but like you mentioned, the plastic toys destined for the landfill drives me nuts. That is why I have a hard time with the Toys for Tots group. I wish that they would at least say to bring in a gently used toy that your kid doesn’t use anymore instead of buying new. Also, the local food kitchens here were desperately low on food, so I again would have a hard time buying a new toy when others don’t have a meal.
It’s rampant, too! Consumerism is all over the place during Christmas. I agree that it’s hard to think of buying a brand new toy when others don’t have enough to eat.
Good tips here! I’m all for a pared down, less materialistic approach to the holidays. My sister has a great system for combatting wrapping paper waste–she wraps her kids’ gifts up in colorful scarves, which she reuses for every holiday and birthday. And, we don’t waste any of that good holiday food! We eat it all week long and just freeze anything that’ll go bad before we can consume it.
That’s a great idea, Mrs. Frugalwoods! I ove leftovers, so like you, I could never waste holiday food.
We try to spend as close to zero every Christmas now that our son is grown and doesn’t want gifts cluttering up his minimalist lifestyle. This year we didn’t only get close to zero, we totally achieved it! Total Win! 🙂