For many families, December 25th is one of the most special days of the year—but it can also be a bit wasteful. Just imagine the aftermath of opening gifts, prepping food… and all that clean-up up. That’s a lot of waste going into the trash and, likely, right into the local landfill.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. As an eco-conscious reveler, you can make a few simple choices to make your entire Christmas Day one that’s a whole lot more earth-friendly than it has been in the past. Here’s how to update your to-do list on the big day—from start to finish—so your holiday celebration is as green as possible:
Get things off to a great start with these pre-Christmas morning tips:
- Harvest Natural Décor: You don’t have to go out and buy faux decorations made of plastic or other potentially toxic materials. Instead, try and gather some from your own backyard. In fact, it could be a fun family activity to survey the neighborhood for fallen pinecones, berries, branches and fruits you can use to decorate.
- Buy—and Ask For—Sustainable Gifts: You’ll be surprised at just how many eco-friendly options are out there, even when you’re given a list of specific items that a loved one wants. And, while it’s always wonderful to receive the things you want as well, you might consider adding a few selfless items to your wish list this year. For example, you could ask loved ones to make a donation to a project close to your heart that aims to make the world a better, greener place.
- Avoid Battery-Powered Products: Batteries require extra-special recycling—plus, they’re expensive and wasteful. Try to find plug-in versions of everything on your shopping list. If that’s not an option, make sure you buy a set of rechargeable batteries to go with each battery-powered present so you don’t perpetuate the cycle of battery overuse.
When Christmas morning arrives, you can continue your eco-friendly merrymaking by trying out the following:
- Wrap With Recycled: Fortunately, many companies have caught on to the green trends and updated their products to include recycled materials. You’ll also be pleased to find that the recycled wrapping paper on the market is just as cute as the old-school stuff. Make sure you’re using only the former as you finish up your wrapping this year. You can get even more creative by wrapping gifts in paper you already have: newspaper, magazine pages, kids’ drawings and old posters. You name it, and it could probably be used to make a unique Christmas wrapping!
- Make Sure You Continue the Re-Cycle: After the gifts have been unwrapped, make sure to keep the paper and use it again, to continue the cycle—or, at the very least, recycle it responsibly. The same goes for gift boxes and bags, which you might be able to save and reuse next year.
- Turn Down the Thermostat: Encourage everyone to put on cozy PJs, slippers and Christmas sweaters. You’ll save energy and have an excuse to cuddle up on the happiest day of the year.
- Selectively Switch on the Lights, Too: Your twinkle lights look wonderful, but the truth is that they use energy. Unless they’re LED lights, which use less resources, make sure you’re strategic and sparing as to when you turn your tree and house lights on and off.
Finally—the main course (so to speak). Christmas dinner is full of opportunities to give back to the planet.
- Use Local Ingredients: Your carbon footprint is increased when you purchase foods that have to be shipped, driven or flown in. To make sure your Christmas menu is as green as possible, make sure the ingredients are sourced from local farmers and markets—at least, as many ingredients as possible. Local ingredients have benefits beyond their environmental ones, too. They help improve the local community by supporting farmers, improve the soil and make lands better for local wildlife.
- Choose Smart Cookware: It has been discovered that some protective cookware coatings, such as Teflon, can break down and release toxins into your food. Rather than risk an unhealthy meal, cook with ceramic or other non-toxic products that get the job done just as effectively.
- Quench Your Thirst With Filtered Water: Say “no” to bottled H 2 O this Christmas, no matter how snazzy those fancy bottles look on the table. You’ll do much more for the earth by filtering tap water, whether through your faucet, refrigerator or a pitcher that does the work for you. In doing so, you’ll reduce the resources and energy used to make plastic bottles and ship them across the country.
- Rely on Leftovers: We promise you’re going to be exhausted tomorrow, so don’t throw your leftovers away today. Instead, package them up and reheat them—or repurpose them into a new meal—tomorrow so they don’t go to waste.
- Pay It Forward: If you’re having guests for dinner, a creative parting gift would be a packet of seeds to be planted, so everyone can regrow the Christmas tree they chopped down this year. We all know the importance of trees, but continuing their lifecycle and guaranteeing their presence means the world will be that much healthier.
Now you’re ready! By putting the above tips into practice, you’ll be celebrating a green Christmas, whether or not it’s snowing outside. And, by keeping the environment at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be safeguarding the planet so that many generations can continue these traditions for years to come.
For more fun tips from Jennifer Landis, visit her blog MindfulnessMama.com.