How to Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas- Even in a Pandemic!
With the holiday season coming up, it is time to start thinking how we can fit the environment into our Christmas plans. Christmas will look a little bit different this year, but that does not mean we cannot take this opportunity to change some of our habits & traditions and curb our environmental impact during the holiday season.
Although the pandemic will impact how we celebrate our Christmas this year, there are some ways we can celebrate safely that inherently reduce our carbon footprint. Since we cannot gather all together this year in real life, gathering virtually is a great option and it reduces the amount of cars on the road, therefore reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions across Ontario (and the rest of the world!). Certainly a win-win for you and the environment, and making the best out of an unideal situation.
The Christmas Tree
There are always on-going debates between whether a real or fake tree is more eco-friendly than one another- I am here to debunk this dispute! However, it is a fairly complicated answer. If you already own an artificial tree, stick with what you have until it no longer works for you! You need to use that tree for over 20 years for it to be more sustainable than the natural tree counterpart. However, buying a natural tree when you already have a replacement is not required or sustainable. Therefore, if you have a fake tree, use it until you cannot! On that note, if you do not own an artificial tree, your best route is to go with a real, all natural tree. The likelihood of you keeping an artificial tree for over 20 years is low and given this, real trees are the more eco-friendly way to go! Who would have thought! After the season of Christmas, they are able to be processed as organic waste and composted. When choosing a real Christmas tree, try to opt for one that is grown locally so you can support your local economy/farms.
There are lots of options for décor that have a reduced environmental impact.
For lighting, choose LEDs or Energy Star certified light strands – this helps you to reduce your electricity bills and helps to reduce fossil fuel emissions. This applies to all decorative light elements, including indoor and outdoor pieces.
For other décor elements, try using all natural, compostable items to make your house more festive. You are probably thinking – like what? Get outside and enjoy the fresh air while collecting pinecones, trimming tree greenery and fallen birch tree branches. These are all sustainable, compostable, and not to mention free, décor items that will make your home festive without having to purchase more waste to go into the landfill. The tree trimmings will only last the season, but the pinecones and birch tree pieces are storable and re-useable for years to come (& compostable at the end of their life)!
Other décor ideas include getting crafty & making your own ornaments and garlands. Items such as popcorn, dried cranberries/oranges/apple slices, cinnamon sticks, pinecones, nuts and paper (to make snowflakes and other décor) are all colourful, sometimes scented, options to make your home and tree decorative with a reduced environmental impact and are relatively low budget options.
Instead of frivolous spending this year on material items people do not need, consider buying people experiences to create memories with you and others. This is not as easy as it would be in previous years with COVID being a factor, however, there are still some ‘experience’ type gifts that you can give that support our local economy and give people the opportunity to do something different that does not create more landfill waste.
Some alternative gifts you could include are:
- Gift cards for local restaurants (maybe it is your favourite restaurant and perhaps the gift receiver has never eaten there before!)
- Online subscription services for tv shows, movies or music (ex. Spotify or Netflix)
- Virtual classes (cooking, baking, flower arranging)
- Meal kit subscription box
- Annual Parks pass
- Local museum/botanical garden memberships
- DIY Artwork and eco crafts
- Charitable donation in the recipient’s name
You could also buy items that make someone’s home a little more eco-friendly, this could include beeswax wraps, a reusable coffee mug (if they don’t have one already) and even items such as LED light fixtures or smart thermostat for those with larger budgets.
Even though Christmas will not look the same this year, it should be taken as an opportunity to rethink the holiday season and make habits and traditions a bit more eco-friendly with some of the suggestions above. Do you have any eco-friendly traditions of your own during the holiday season? We would love to hear some from you to add to our list!