The holidays are a busy time, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget about being environmentally conscious. There are dozens of ways you can incorporate eco-friendly decorating, travel, and gifts into the mix to make your holiday season festive, joyful, and better for our planet.
Eco-Friendly Travel Around the Holidays or Anytime
Holidays are a time of travel. Some families choose to vacation instead of staying home for the holidays. Not all travel, however, is kind to the environment. Thankfully, more hotels and resorts are appealing to the eco-traveler with lots of friendly options.
When researching green travel destinations, be sure to ask some questions about how far their “green standards” go and if they have any certifications from an organization like the International Ecotourism Society. Preserving water by not washing linens each day is a start, but it’s not enough to satisfy most green travelers.
Africa, South America, and Australia offer some fantastic eco-lodges with low-impact tourism. These locales are unique because they were built from the ground up with eco-friendly practices in mind. If you plan on traveling stateside, Alaska, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Montana offer locally grown food in their restaurants, cotton linens, and recycles products throughout.
Environmentally-Conscious Decorating Ideas
This year forget about that fake tree. Artificial trees damage the environment, and more than 80 percent of them are made in China burning coal and then shipped to the U.S. on diesel ships. Fake trees are non-biodegradable and will sit in landfills for years. A better solution is a real tree which is all natural, fully biodegradable, and smells great. Another option is a live tree that you can bring in each winter, wasting nothing and enjoying year after year.
Instead of using traditional holiday lights, opt for LED lights which use less electricity (33 percent); they burn cooler, so less risk of fire; and they last a long time. When decorating your house, use sprigs of real garland and pine instead of plastic. A few added bows here and there go a long way.
For a unique gift-giving idea for teens and young adults, consider a metal detector under the tree this year. Go treasure hunting even in winter for recyclables under the snow and cleaning up trash around neighboring lakes and ponds. A metal detector is a gift that will get used year round, while also honoring an eco-friendly mindset.
Some other great eco-friendly gift ideas are a Nalu Reusable Sun Bottle that keeps plastic away from your water, smoothie or tea. Essential oils are all natural, and a gift set of toiletries infused with scented oils is a nice present many will enjoy. For the chef in your family, consider an organic bamboo cutting board or recycled melamine bowls in festive colors.
Hand-crafted gifts are the nicest to give and receive. The EPA suggests a great eco-friendly gift such as homemade edibles as they are thoughtful and offer an opportunity to utilize locally grown foods and recyclable materials. Additionally, if you are crafty and skilled in photography, painting, knitting or jewelry-making, you can give special customized gifts to everyone on your list.
Other Tips for Eco-Friendly Holidays
Remember when cooking, not to keep opening the oven door. It uses a lot of extra energy to reheat every time you do. Instead, use the oven light to peek through the window to see if your holiday feast is ready.
Winter can be cold, and it might be tempting just to turn up the heat. Instead, wear a winter sweater or use that nice throw you got for your birthday to stay warm. Your guests may enjoy it a little cooler also. When cooking and running around with gifts and kids, houses tend to warm up naturally anyway.
By implementing a few of these small changes, your holidays can be a wonderful time to be with family, share laughs and still help to save our planet.