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Happy (Eco-Friendly) Holidays!

It's officially that time of year! As 2022 comes to a close, most of us can't wait to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones and embrace the sentiments of nostalgia and optimism that a new year brings. However, the holidays are also a time of excessive consumption, which is often not sustainable. So, in honor of the most wonderful time of the year, here are five pointers on how to be environmentally conscious over the Holiday season.

1. Skip the Wrapping Paper

Gift-giving is one of the most popular customs of the season, which is why it is vital that we evaluate the function of wrapping paper. Whether you are indulging in a Secret Santa or simply shopping for the perfect present for a particular someone, examine the use of wrapping paper. After all, the majority of its material cannot be recycled and degrades into microplastics, which contaminate our seas or are consumed by other species. Unfortunately, the demand for wrapping paper skyrockets during the holiday season, but at least the latter has resulted in the development of more sustainable alternatives. Some individuals now use biodegradable and compostable wrapping paper, while others have abandoned it entirely; after all, a present is just wrapped to be opened a few seconds later.

2. Gift-Shop Local

Yes, it is crucial to look for environmentally responsible wrapping, but the present itself can also be eco-friendly! Try to confine your Holiday shopping to local stores and independent suppliers this year. Before you buy, check into the materials of the presents you're considering - perhaps there are better options. Local gift purchasing throughout the holiday season not only contributes to greener services but may also help promote the local economy and small businesses.

3. Buy Energy-Saving LED Lights

During the Holiday season, overconsumption of electricity is also a huge concern. The holidays compel us to misuse power on a daily basis for more than a month, whether it's decorating your balcony with fairy lights or lighting up the Christmas tree. Similarly, the holidays are a time of shorter days, and most of us see the sunset before 6 p.m., which encourages energy consumption.

Fortunately, technological advancements have enabled replacements to enter the market. Energy-saving LED lights may now be used to adorn your house while reducing your energy consumption by up to 80%! They also have a longer lifespan, making them more valuable to the consumer. It is also important to be aware of how long you leave your Christmas lights on and to avoid utilizing them during the day and/or late at night.

4. Reinvent Your Christmas Trees

Putting up and decorating a Christmas tree is one of the most fun pastimes for many people, to the point that the practice has transcended its religious connotation. However, due to their popularity, we must also examine strategies to limit the waste generated by Christmas trees.

For starters, avoid buying plastic trees, which are not recyclable and, like wrapping paper, contain millions of microplastics. Furthermore, the majority of these trees are brought from abroad, resulting in significant volumes of carbon emissions only to fulfill demand. If you're going to use a real tree, it's also a good idea to "adopt" one. Many programs now focus on replanting Christmas trees after the holiday season so that they can be utilized by the same people the following year.

5. Travel Sustainably

If you want to travel during the Christmas season, there are several methods to make your vacation more environmentally friendly. For example, because the holiday period in December is shorter than it is in summer, consider taking short visits rather than traveling long distances; by avoiding air travel, you may substantially lower the carbon footprint of your itinerary. Furthermore, engage with eco-friendly tour operators and keep an eye out for eco-friendly food suppliers, motels, and other facilities.

These five tips prove how, by making slight changes, we can be sure that our end-of-the-year activities do not bring further harm to our environment. It is by being mindful that we may extend our sentiments of joy, appreciation, and empathy – all essential for a healthy and loving Holiday spirit – to Mother Nature.


Illustration by Madison Wright

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