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by Natalie Michel 5 min read

The holiday season is an exciting time of year. No matter what holidays you observe, the end of the year is often a time of joy when people and families are able to come together and celebrate with one another. It’s a time of good food, reflection, and gratitude, but sometimes, in all the celebration, the planet slips our mind. We get caught up in the excess of the season, and we don’t stop to think how our actions and purchases could be affecting the environment.

Here are 10 tips for an amazing eco-friendly holiday season.

 1. Eliminate single-use plastic.

The term single-use plastic refers to plastic items that are immediately discarded after use. Prime examples are straws, utensils, and packaging. Whenever you’re planning a party, it seems like the obvious thing to do would be to buy a big pack of paper plates, a sleeve of plastic cups, and a box of plastic cutlery. While it might be the most convenient choice, it’s one that could have a serious negative effect on the environment. According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), half of the 300 tons of plastic thrown away each year is single-use plastic. That’s 150 TONS of plastic.

 

By taking the extra step to use washable cutlery, plates, and cups at your holiday gathering, you can play a part in reducing that 150 tons of plastic being thrown away each year.

 
2. Purchase paper products made from recycled materials.

When purchasing paper products like paper towels, toilet paper, and napkins, make sure the ones you’re purchasing are made from recycled material. The production of paper products is responsible for much of the deforestation happening in the world, and making the choice to buy recycled paper products can help eliminate the need for global deforestation. In fact, according to Dr. Greene, “If every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees.”

ONE MILLION TREES saved by something as simple as taking a little extra time to ensure the napkins you purchase are made from recycled material. It’s that easy!

3. Shop locally. 

As you’re planning and shopping for your holiday meals, try checking out locally owned grocery stores and farmer’s markets for your ingredients. Buying directly from the farmers is a great way to ensure the food you’re buying is all-natural and healthy without unnecessary additives or preservatives. It is also an easy and effective way to give back to your community and help a neighbor during the holiday season. You might not realize it, but reinvesting in local communities rather than buying from large corporations is great for the environment, too,as large corporations are often responsible for big percentages of pollution.

 4. Use reusable bags when you shop or choose paper.

When you go shopping this holiday season, make sure you carry reusable bags rather than relying on plastic bags. As we mentioned before, plastic waste is a huge problem for the environment, and by utilizing reusable bags, you can significantly reduce your own personal plastic waste. If you’re out shopping and you forgot your reusable bags, ask if the store has a paper bag option. Paper bags are easier to recycle andthey’re compostable!

5. DIY decorations from nature.

Instead of spending money on plastic decorations for your holiday celebration, try making your own decorations using things from nature! Easy to find things like pinecones, autumn leaves, evergreen twigs, and pumpkins can all easily be made into centerpieces or homemade wreaths for an all-natural, holiday decor. 

Check out
these ideas for more inspiration.
 

 6. Reduce travel.

It’s no secret that burning fossil fuels is a huge contributor to climate change, and the fossil fuel we burn the most is gasoline. While the holidays are meant to be a time when families can come together, it’s best to limit unnecessary travel as much as possible. Consider using public transportation or taking a train rather than driving your personal vehicle. Carpool with other friends or family members heading in the same direction. Cutting down on needless driving is a great way to do your part for the planet, and it may also cut down your stress level as it keeps you out of holiday traffic.  

According to
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC), 40% of the food that’s purchased in America gets thrown away each year. The holidays can especially be a time notorious for throwing away food since many of our celebrations revolve around a big meal. This year, instead of throwing away the remaining food, why not save it as leftovers? Leftovers are a great way to continue the celebration for days to come, and you can feel good about not letting it go to waste.

 7. Avoid food waste.

Have leftovers that you didn’t get to eat, and now they’re a little questionable? Create a compost bin! Composting is a great way to recycle old food, and it will kick start any garden. Check outthis guide to composting by Drexel University to learn more.

 
8. Microwave versus conventional ovens.

When it’s time to heat up those leftovers, don’t be afraid to use your microwave! There has been a lot of discussion over the years about whether or not microwaves are bad for the environment, but recent studies have shown they are actually more energy efficient than conventional ovens. InEcoWatch’sarticle discussing the latest study, it is explained that the amount of electricity used by a standard microwave over its lifetime is comparable to that of a lightbulb, a very low amount of power compared to larger appliances like conventional ovens. 

 
9. Environmentally friendly cleaning products.

As your holiday celebrations are coming to an end and it’s time to clean up, be sure the cleaning products you are using are eco-friendly. Cleaning products with harsh and unnatural chemicals can have a negative effect on the environment as those chemicals tend to linger and contribute to ground, water, and air pollution. If you want to use eco-friendly cleaning products but aren’t sure where to start, check outthis list of 14 eco-friendly products.

 
10. Recycle.

Recycling is the most important thing you can do to live more sustainably. If you don’t already have a recycling bin, contact your local recycling center and see how you can get one. Learn more about what items are accepted for recycling in your area, and do your part to keep those items out of landfills.

Do you have other ideas on how to have an amazing eco-friendly holiday? Show us your eco-friendly holiday celebrations, and let us know how you’ve incorporated these practices into your life by tagging us on Facebook or Instagram

Natalie Michel
Natalie Michel


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