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A Greener Festive Season: Sustainable Holiday Ideas for 2023 and Beyond

Sustainable Holiday Ideas: Enjoy A Greener Season

The holiday season is a time for celebration, giving, and sharing precious moments with loved ones. However, it’s also a time when we tend to generate a significant amount of waste and consume more resources than usual. In fact, Americans generate 25% more waste during the holiday season compared to the standard average of five pounds per week.

While individual actions do play a role in reducing our carbon footprint, it’s essential to acknowledge that addressing climate change requires systemic change as well. However, it’s still enjoyable to engage in eco-conscious actions during this time of year, which is why we’ve put together a list of sustainable holiday ideas that are easy, fun, and festive.

Understanding Sustainable Holidays

A sustainable holiday is when you use as many strategies as possible to minimize wastage, unnecessary consumption, carbon emissions, and plastic waste during the festive holiday season. It’s connecting with friends, family, and loved ones, giving gifts, and creating special memories in a more eco-friendly way.

There are many ways to make your holidays more sustainable without sacrificing any of the aspects of the festive season that you and your family love. These include using eco-friendly decor, opting for biodegradable or reusable gift wrapping, gifting mindfully, and traveling and entertaining in more sustainable ways.

5 Sustainable Holiday Ideas

Use these sustainable holiday ideas as inspiration for the upcoming festive season and beyond.

1. Sustainable Holiday Decorations

Natural Decorations

Use locally sourced, biodegradable materials like pine cones, dried flowers, and branches for your holiday wreaths and centerpieces. Decorations like orange garlands are the perfect holiday activity to make with friends and family.

Reusable Decor

Invest in reusable decorations that can be used year after year, reducing the need for disposable items. When we shop for decorations that we intend to use for a long time, we put more effort into our choices and only buy things that have true value to us and can be passed on to future generations.

Tree Shopping and Disposal

Plastic trees may be reusable, but they do shed microplastics that will work their way into your local environment over time. Real trees are a more sustainable option when it comes to reducing plastic waste, but they also carry the risk of environmental damage and deforestation. The most eco-friendly Christmas tree is a small, potted pine or fir tree that you can plant in your garden or gift to a loved one after the festive season has ended. If you do opt for a cut tree, be sure to compost it or use it as firewood or timber after the season is over to minimize waste.

Energy Efficient Lighting

Light up your home and table with energy-efficient lighting options like rechargeable solar lanterns, traditional or LED candles, and solar fairy lights. This will help to reduce your energy consumption over the holidays while still giving your home a magical look and feel.

2. Eco-friendly Gift Wrapping

Gift wrapping can be a significant source of waste during the holidays. Approximately 2.3 million pounds of gift wrap ends up in landfills every year. Here are a few ideas to wrap more sustainably:

Recycled Paper

Choose recycled or recyclable wrapping paper or create your own using old newspapers or brown kraft paper.

Fabric Wraps

Consider using fabric wraps or Furoshiki, a Japanese technique of wrapping gifts in reusable cloth, which reduces waste and adds a personal touch.

Natural Embellishments

Decorate your gifts with natural elements like twine, dried flowers, or pine sprigs instead of plastic bows and ribbons.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Cards

Buy or make cards from recycled paper or eco-friendly paper embedded with seeds that grow wildflowers, herbs or vegetables when planted. These cards can double up as eco-friendly gifts too.

Upcycled Shipping Boxes, Envelopes, and Mailers

If you will be shipping gifts to friends and family this year, opt for upcycled or reusable envelopes, mailers, and shipping containers to minimize waste. Encourage your recipients to reuse these shipping supplies as well, ensuring that they are used as much as possible before being discarded. If you do need to purchase new shipping packaging, try to choose biodegradable or reusable options wherever and whenever possible.

3. Mindful Gifting

Gift-giving is a cherished holiday tradition, but it’s also an area where sustainability can make a difference:

Experiences Over Things

Instead of physical gifts, consider gifting experiences like cooking classes, concert tickets, or spa days, which create lasting memories without additional clutter. Some families are even foregoing physical gifts altogether and using that money to go on a family trip later in the year.

Local and Handmade Gifts

Support local artisans and small businesses by purchasing locally made, hand-crafted gifts that often have a lower environmental impact than mass-produced items.

Second Hand and Upcycled Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

Explore thrift stores and online marketplaces for unique second-hand gifts or upcycled treasures that reduce the demand for new products.

Support Environmentally Conscious Brands

If you will be buying new gifts this festive season, seek out brands with firm and clear environmental sustainability pledges, such as Patagonia, Juneshine, Allbirds and Rothy’s.

4. Sustainable Entertaining

Holiday gatherings often involve a lot of food and drink, oftentimes way more than what’s needed. Make your celebrations more sustainable by:

Reducing Food Waste

The holidays often make hosts believe that their guests’ stomachs have doubled, which results in significant food waste. Plan your meals carefully to minimize food waste, and encourage guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers.

Sustainable Servingware and Eco-Friendly Party Decorations

Use reusable plates, utensils, and eco-friendly party cups or reusable glassware to reduce the amount of disposable plastic used during parties.

Choose Local and Seasonal Foods

Opt for locally sourced and seasonal ingredients when planning your holiday menus to support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint of your meals.

5. Sustainable Holiday Travel

Find Places that Promote Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism has a significantly lower impact on local environments while still giving you a chance to see the sights in novel ways. Some notable hotspots for sustainable tourism include Uganda, Scotland, Costa Rica, Namibia, and the Republic of Palau.

Focus on Domestic/Local Travel

‘Staycations’ are a fantastic way to take a festive break without producing vast amounts of carbon emissions through hours of air and road travel. Head across the border to discover a new attraction or find interesting new destinations nearby.

Choose a Sustainably-Minded Hotel

Sustainable hotels offer low energy and water consumption, low waste production, eco-friendly amenities, and policies that support local communities and ecosystems. Supporting their business allows you to take part in their advocacy and helps them sustain responsible and eco-friendly business practices.

Go Camping

Camping is one of the best ways to travel sustainably. Consider staying at a picturesque wildlife reserve to escape the city and reconnect with nature.

Cruz Foam’s Role in a Sustainable Holiday

Cruz Foam is an ASTM-certified compostable packaging alternative that degrades into a final product very similar to natural food waste. Our packaging solutions are food-grade, manufactured in existing facilities using sustainable methods and materials, and produced from low-cost, abundant feedstocks.

We also produce our packaging solutions in-region and close to our customers, limiting the need for shipping and essentially reducing our carbon footprint. Moreover, we use waste from the global food production industry to produce our products, diverting waste away from landfills while still providing environmentally friendly and effective packaging solutions for all of your festive gifts and supplies.

The Takeaway

While individual actions are essential in the fight against climate change, it’s crucial to recognize that systemic changes and collective efforts are equally vital. Sustainable holiday ideas like eco-friendly decor, conscious gift wrapping, mindful gifting, and sustainable entertaining can help reduce our environmental impact during the festive season and often lead to more enjoyable activities done with family and friends.

However, addressing climate change also requires policy changes, corporate responsibility, and international cooperation. By combining individual actions with advocacy for systemic change, we can work towards a greener and more sustainable future for all. This holiday season, let’s celebrate not only with joy but also with a commitment to positive change.

Contact Cruz Foam if you want to learn more about our packaging products and how they benefit the environment, not just during the holidays but all year round.

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