If you think a merry Christmas can't be environmentally friendly too, think again. Here are a few simple things you can do to make your holiday season a little greener. Happy holidays!
O Christmas Tree
Let's begin with the probably most essential Christmas decoration at all: the tree. In many Western cultures, that's a must-have. People often start looking for the p-e-r-f-e-c-t tree many weeks before Christmas. They order their favorite type in advance, or pick it out when it's still growing. It has to be tall and straight, with thick foliage (of course!) and a nice conical top.
After picking it up, we decorate it with baubles and glitter, and enjoy its presence for a week or so - and then? Bye-bye Christmas tree, nice having you!
Millions of trees are planted to fulfill only one job: Being a Christmas tree for a single holiday season. We all know this is a waste. Because even if it is a Christmas tree, it still has a carbon footprint.
So you may think that getting a plastic tree could be the better option. Well, it's not. Why? A plastic tree is usually produced overseas, and has to be transported a long distance. It's used for, let's say, five to 10 years. And then, it's thrown away in a landfill - for forever. This kind of plastic isn't easy to recycle, and plastic waste is a real problem. So this isn't a very green option for Christmas.
One possibility is to be content with some nice branches. Presents don't need to lie under a tree. Another option is to get a local tree in a pot, or simply rent one. You don't have to give up your Christmas tree to be green!
Shall I wrap that for you?
Wrapping paper can be almost as expensive as the Christmas presents. We wrap the present, somebody rips the paper off, and it lands in the garbage. Awesome - not!
One way to make your Christmas greener is to avoid lots of (expensive) trash. For example, we can recycle old newspapers by wrapping presents in that.
Another idea: Wrap your presents in old pieces of fabric. Depending on what kind of fabric you use, that can really make an impression.
But anyway, what's important is that on the inside, right? So let's get to the present itself.
Presents, presents, presents!
If you're still going along with tradition, you are probably going crazy around December. You and everyone else. So just stop it! We spend way too much money on new items without even knowing whether they are needed or will ever be used.
There are lots of shops that specialized in sustainable and ethical goods. These might protect the environment - but probably not your wallet.
Think a bit more vintage. Flea markets or at secondhand shops are treasure troves. Ever thought about gifting an oldschool, hard-to-get LP?
How about making some of your presents yourself? DIY (do-it-yourself) is so vogue. There's lots of inspiration on the Internet. There are even shops were you can buy DIY goods if you are not dexterous enough to make them yourself.
The festive table
As Christmas nears, we remember all the people who are coming over for a festive dinner at our place. What do we need? Decorations! But let's think a bit more sustainably. Why not use fabric tablecloths and napkins instead of paper? Wash it, use it again. Simple enough - and so classy.
And the other decorations? Use your ornaments and Christmas stuff from last year. Christmas themes don't typically change from year to year (ha, ha). Or think about trading Christmas decorations with friends, if you get sick of seeing the same items every winter.
We don't have to tell you that you should seek out seasonal and locally grown food, right? Hone your an art of preparing enough food for all the guests, but not so much that it's wasted. Because that just really goes against the holiday spirit.
Merry green Christmas to all!