A Greener, Stress-Free Holiday Season Made Easy
The last thing we need is more to think about over the holidays. What if you could do less and get more out of the season? I propose challenging yourself and your family to go green this holiday season. I’m willing to guarantee you get through it with more time, less stress, and more joy. Here are three ways to go green while staying festive.
Going truly minimalist, you could decorate only with pine boughs you collect in the forest… but for most of us, bringing festive touches into our homes requires some store-bought décor. Keeping it simple can still be elegant and create a celebratory feel. Before impulse-buying more decorations, unpack what you already have. Once you see your stash, you’re less likely to feel the need to get more. If you’re wanting more, choose pieces that you can use year after year, and look for locally crafted, non-toxic items (hint: avoid synthetic fragrances, like that candle that isn’t actually made with mulled cranberries). If you’re tired of some decorations, or need to make space for ones your kids make, consider donating unused decorations to a shelter or senior’s home.
When was the last time you heard “I don’t think we have enough food!” at a holiday dinner? Save money and reduce food waste by thinking about how much food you really need for the size of your party. Ditch the paper plates and napkins, too. Borrow cutlery and dishes if you need to and accept offers of help cleaning —use the time to have some quality conversations with loved ones over the kitchen sink.
Freeze unused food portions immediately, or have a plan created ahead of time on how to use leftovers (there’s an app for that). If you had too many leftovers of something, make note of it and pack that note up with your decorations so that next year you won’t make the same mistake.
Recycle as much of the wrapping paper and as many cards as possible and keep tissue paper and ribbons that are still in good shape to use again.
'Tis the season for giving—but we’ve started giving for the sake of giving rather than with purpose. If you’ve got a group of family or friends you exchange presents with, put names in a hat to select one person to get a gift for, agree not to exchange gifts altogether, or donate to a charity instead.
If gift-giving is an important part of your family’s traditions, rethink how you’re giving. Consider making something useful or meaningful, giving an experience (cooking classes, tickets to the theatre, museum pass, etc.), supporting a small local business, or giving responsibly produced consumables (organic wine, locally made fair trade chocolates, etc.). As you package it up, try to eliminate wrapping waste by reusing newspaper/magazines/gift bags.
Remember, just because seasonal sales abound, doesn’t mean you have to buy. Not buying something is the best kind of sale there is—100 per cent off!
The holidays should be about spending quality time with loved ones, spreading good cheer, and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Make this the year you truly enjoy the holidays and carry that joy (and maybe even some greenness) with you into the new year.
Emma Rohmann is a nature-lover and city-dweller who strives to live green within her means. Her green living journey started over 10 years ago. In 2015, she started Green at Home, a social media and blog campaign to provide thoughtful ideas for making your home more green.