How to Celebrate a Sustainable Holiday Season

The holiday season is here, and that means it’s the time for togetherness, giving, and pure joy, right? Well, for some. There’s no denying participating in festive events increases holiday spirit, but when you look at the environmental impacts you may think twice about how you celebrate. If you struggle with eco-anxiety, like myself, perhaps these statistics will influence you to adopt sustainable practices for your holidays. 

Research shows that our trash production in the United States increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years. That amounts to about an additional 25 million tons of waste sent to our landfills to be burned, emitting greenhouse gases that will accelerate the impacts of climate change. So, you see, throwing away a few plastic forks can snowball into an alarming impact (and this may be the only type of snowballing we may hear of this winter if we don’t combat the climate crisis now!). If  you feel inclined to go-green this holiday season, I encourage you to follow some of the tips below for each holiday! And, if you want to incorporate sustainable practices in your daily life too, head to our Facebook page to stay updated on our weekly sustainable tips.

 

Sustainable Thanksgiving
Give thanks by preparing a locally-made feast! Long Island provides several farms or farmers markets to buy local produce. Check out some of these markets when food shopping for your holiday: Sea Cliff Farmers market in Glen Cove, Natural Earth Organic Farms in Calverton, or look up some local markets/farms in your area!

So, you’ve provided your family with locally sourced food but what else can you do? Encourage your family to come prepared with their own tupperware containers! Arguably one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is snacking on leftovers for the next week! You can kill two birds with one stone when you bring your own tupperware by eliminating food waste, and avoiding disposable containers or plastic wrapped plates!

 

Sustainable Hanukkah/Christmas

By December 1st, the Holiday season will be in full swing. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love shopping for gifts with a hot chocolate, and Mariah Carey’s Christmas album on repeat? You don’t have to stop these traditions to have a green holiday. Sustainable shopping starts by staying mindful. Perhaps instead of shopping at the mall, look for companies that use sustainable practices, or only buy gifts the receiver will use! Better yet, give the gift of an experience.. A gift of an experience eliminates the waste of gift wrap, which contributes a large portion to the holiday waste. If you opt for a gift that needs to be wrapped try finding recycled wrapping paper or get crafty and use old newspapers, twine or any other unused fabrics laying around your home!

Another significant part of the holidays are the decorations! When decorating your homes this year aim to purchase LED lights that use less electricity and last longer. Bring out that crafty side again, and create your own decor with things you may find outdoors! Also look for natural candles for your menorahs to avoid the release of harmful chemicals. 

Sustainable New Year

While New Year’s Eve parties may look a little smaller this year, we must still consider the environmental impact of our gathering. In preparation for your party, avoid buying single use decorations or utensils. If you can’t avoid this, try swapping for a biodegradable option. 

A New Year’s Eve party wouldn’t be complete without at least one person showing up in those notorious sparkly outfits. If that person is you, try to shop secondhand. A study done in Great Britain states that about 8 million pieces of clothing get thrown in the trash after being worn once to a holiday party. Protest fast fashion by using the many online secondhand outlets, such as Poshmark, ThreadUp, or Depop. If this wont work, take a look through your local thrift stores, or a sibling’s closet!

Lastly, come up with an eco friendly resolution….except don’t wait until 2021 to start. The best time to start living environmentally friendly is now! Your small lifestyle changes will make an impact, although it may not seem like it. Hopefully these tips will help you celebrate a sustainable holiday season!

By Miranda Gonzales, Long Island Pine Barrens Society