As autumn rolls in with cooler temperatures, the holiday season is kicking off across the U.S.
Festivities ramp up in the final months of the calendar year as families and groups of friends convene for holidays, traditions and annual celebrations. With gatherings and events happening left and right, it’s estimated that trash production between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by 25 percent. That’s one million EXTRA tons of garbage each week.
Did you know there are some really easy ways you can thank our planet that will also reduce your carbon footprint this holiday season? Here are 5 ways you can make this holiday season more eco-friendly and sustainable:
1. Hosting? Ditch the plastic cutlery!
Sometimes single-use is unavoidable - we get it. If you’re in charge of your office holiday party or are hosting a big event this season and need disposable cutlery, commit to ditching the plastic. Quick cleanups don’t have to come at the cost of more plastic pollution. There are some awesome eco-friendly alternatives to plastic cups and throw-away plates.
Chicago-based brand ibambo makes bamboo cutlery sets that are biodegradable, eco-friendly and sustainable. Green Paper Products also offer a wide variety of compostable and biodegradable dining ware options.
Both you and your guests will feel better knowing you're keeping the planet in mind during your festivities. Don’t stop at cutlery - consider your beverage options, too! Rather than providing guests with a single-use plastic bottle, opt for a 92% plant-based carton from Boxed Water™ instead. Our 330mL carton is a fan favorite at holiday parties!
From decorations to cutlery, try to avoid plastic products. When decorating your home, use natural embellishments that can be composted for an eco-friendly twist; pumpkins, acorns, walnuts, autumn leaves, and pine cones will still give a festive vibe to your house. And instead of stuffing stockings with small, plastic trinkets, you can use healthy, consumable treats like nuts, dried fruits, or homemade holiday cookies.
2. Reuse & Wrap Sustainably
Our friends at The National Environmental Education Foundation estimate that 38,000 miles worth of ribbon is thrown out every year. What may seem like the perfect final touch to your gift-wrapping masterpiece is actually doing some extreme damage to our planet. When this material isn’t recycled, it ends up in landfills where it decomposes and produces a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor known as landfill gas. The methane is especially troubling because it is the second-most common greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S. from human activity and has a high impact on climate change. Next time you receive a gift, make a game out of how neatly you can unwrap it so you can reuse those ribbons and bows.
Unfortunately, much of the glitter and glossy decor isn’t recyclable, but there are BETTER solutions! Check out Wrappr, a reusable, biodegradable, and woman-owned brand that sells gift wrap that is all recycled and biodegradable. Our friends at Free People also make some adorable reusable wrap. You can also try jute string!
3. Prepare plant-based meals
Livestock agriculture and meat production contribute to global warming by releasing greenhouse gases. Plant-based meats are healthy, tasty alternatives that can improve cardiovascular risk factors, reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol, and even promote modest waste loss. Another strategy you can implement is to shop for local, organic produce which are grown without chemical pesticides, fertilizers, or artificial hormones.
Small changes to your menu can be great for the environment, and even cut down waste as well. You can keep the turkey but still add plant-based side dishes to your meals by swapping out certain ingredients like vegetable broth for chicken broth, or coconut milk for regular milk. Recipe prepping will make you more conscious (and proud!) of your grocery choices, and help you stick to your shopping list. You can also consider recipes that use as little electricity as possible.
4. Gifting? Choose Earth-Friendly Goods
We’ve already talked about how damaging the holiday season can be to our planet. Here’s some good news: There’s a growing number of brands committed to creating earth-friendly merchandise that doesn’t pollute our planet. The holiday season is a perfect time to support the businesses that are giving back to our planet. It’s also a great way to give a gentle reminder to those you care about to incorporate sustainability into their everyday lives. We’ve rounded up 10 eco-friendly gift ideas to cover anyone on your list this year — whether they love to host, or travel, or pamper themselves. Check out the gift guide right here.
5. Make Sustainability Education a 2022 goal
We believe small changes can make a big impact. But an eco-friendly lifestyle might sound intimidating if you unsure where to start. People who become aware of sustainability issues don’t automatically know how to solve them. It’s much easier to feel enthusiastic about making changes when you understand the impact your shopping choices have on the planet. It takes effort to learn more about eco-friendly strategies, which is why doing research is key. A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund reveals that eco-awakening in consumers slowly emerged over the past five years, leading to a 71 percent rise in online searches for sustainable goods globally.
It also helps to listen to sustainability experts. Professionals with a degree in sustainability are educated in interdisciplinary eco-solutions, and undergo training in conservation, ecology, environmental science, social and cultural issues, and sustainable agriculture to name a few. By following blogs or articles from people who promote innovative, evidence-based solutions, you can adopt sustainable practices and ideas for your holiday parties.
— Written by Guest Author, Robbie Joanne