Creating an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

holiday tree

The holidays are a joy filled time of the year. It’s a time to eat delicious food, spend time with friends and family, exchange gifts, and give back to those less fortunate. However, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and forget that not only are your electricity bills rising, so are your impacts on the environment. So this year, why not try making it an eco-friendly holiday season?

One of the best ways to be eco-friendly during the holidays is to be wary of your decorations. Look for decorations that use LED lights, which use up to 90% less energy than traditional light bulbs. While it is always fun to be festive, not putting up Christmas lights two weeks before Thanksgiving is an easy way to lower your environmental impact. In similar fashion, don’t wait until a month after Christmas ends to take them down either! If you are celebrating Chanukkah, a traditional candle burning menorah is better for then environment than an electric model. Popcorn strings are a traditional and old-fashioned Christmas decoration, and they are actually very environmentally friendly; not only do they not use electricity, they are biodegradable!

If you are preparing a large meal for your family during the holidays, there are many ways to remain environmentally friendly. It is always best to look for locally sourced foods, which avoid the pollution that comes from moving the food long distances. It is also best to use cloth napkins and real silverware rather than paper or plastic variety, which end up in landfills the next day.

holiday wrapping paper

Will you be sending cards and giving gifts? You can green up those traditions too.  Look for cards and paper printed on recycled paper with soy ink.  If you have kids, get them involved in making wrapping paper by decorating cut-open paper grocery bags or other leftover paper.  Or, wrap a gift in another gift: a pretty scarf, a t-shirt, a decorative and reusable box, even holiday-themed fabric that can be reused all make great wrapping materials.

The holidays are an important time of year to celebrate with loved ones and cherish what is truly important. Our environment is one of those truly important things.  Treat it gently, even during the holidays, because it can only withstand so much damage. I hope everyone has a happy holiday and a healthy New Year.

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Author: Hayley Feldman

Junior at UW Madison, majoring in zoology and biological aspects of conservation.

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