Seven Ways to Practice Zero-Waste and Environmental Sustainability Christmas Season
Seven Ways to Practice Zero-Waste and Environmental Sustainability Christmas Season
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” -Jane Goodall.
Undoubtedly, Christmas is the happiest season of the year.
It is a time wherein everyone seems a little kinder to each other, a little more generous, and somewhat more forgiving. Indeed, it is the merriest holiday there is.
Unfortunately, it can also be the most wasteful. As it is, Christmas time is, at times, a holiday of excess. People are consuming more, and in their endeavor to be a bit more generous in this season of giving, they tend to buy and give gifts to friends and loved ones. While the act of giving in itself is not necessarily bad, it is the waste that comes with it that is. Today, environmental sustainability has become a rather hot topic, and it is something we must actively consider during the holidays when we can be expected to generate more refuse. Holidays such as Christmastime create more ways, from cards to meals to returned presents. As responsible stewards of the earth, we need to learn to celebrate a zero-waste Christmas or at least something close to it.
After all, according to a popular adage by Annie Leonard, “There is no such thing as away when we throw anything away, it must go somewhere else.”
That said, it is best to be a little more conscious about the things we buy and what we wrap them in this holiday season.
CELEBRATING WITHOUT THE WASTE
Whether you are celebrating from one of your properties in Cebu or elsewhere, ensuring you can do so without waste is paramount. The season of giving is a compelling time to keep the planet's future in mind. Without it, the world will be devoid of cheer. So, this upcoming holiday season, let us give back to our friends and loved ones and to this one planet that has given us so much from the get-go.
It is highly recommended to shop for zero-waste this Christmas season. That said, you should be intentionally choosing gifts and their wrappers, Christmas decorations, and meals. After all, the holidays are an excellent time to make eco-friendly and conscious choices. It is also a great opportunity to spark a conversation about what we need to do to give back to the planet, reduce waste, and protect it for future generations.
Below is a list of ways you and your family can practice zero-waste Christmas this holiday season:
a.) Use plastic-free, zero-waste gift wrapping
Approximately a hundred million pieces of wrapping paper go into the trash yearly during the holiday season. With that in mind, we need to make a conscious effort to reduce this waste. One of the things we can do is to replace the regular plastic wrapping paper with something more eco-friendly such as bamboo paper, newspaper, and recyclable paper, to reduce waste. Another alternative is to use a reusable cloth bag to carry gifts, as it leaves no waste behind. Moreover, this can be used again and again. Lastly, use paper instead of plastic tape, as the latter goes into landfills without any treatment.
b.) Zero-waste Christmas Trees that will last
More often than not, the Christmas tree is what most homeowners would consider the centerpiece of their holiday decorations. For many, not having one in their homes is simply unthinkable. In lieu of plastic trees sold in department stores, however, opt for the alternative eco-friendly wooden trees that are zero-waste. Apart from making pretty trees at home, they are also great office trees and would do wonders for the work environment.
c.) Be more conscious about your Christmas shopping list
One of the best things people can look forward to during Christmas is shopping for gifts. With Christmas sales and holiday deals on almost every corner in the store, it can be pretty tempting to buy to your heart’s content. However, it is best to shop consciously during this festive season and reuse what you have at home. Always remember the three R S: reduce, reuse, recycle. All three are essential to maintaining zero waste.
Whenever possible, try second-hand shopping. Not only will you find hidden treasures and trinkets, but you will also save big. However, choose your gifts wisely if you wish to spend on gifts. This means you spend your money on things that would last and that the recipient can use for a longer period. Shop high-quality products, not quantity.
d.) Instead of material gifts, give memories and experiences
Gifts do not have to be purely material. In fact, some of the best gifts come in the form of memories or experiences. What makes these gifts even more extraordinary is that they are zero-waste. For this upcoming holiday season, consider giving the gift of experiences that create memories or teach lessons. For your outdoor enthusiast friends, you may consider taking them on a camping excursion, on a rock climbing trip, or signing them up for a kayaking course. Music lovers will welcome tickets to see their favorite artists perform in concerts. At the same time, sports fans will deeply appreciate getting tickets to their favorite sports games.
You can also give memberships to clubs, galleries, and even museums. When it comes to gifts, think about your recipient's interests, what they may like to learn or what they enjoy. From there, you can always think of gifts that are not necessarily material in nature but unique gifts that can give them an experience.
e.) Choose zero-waste gifts
Knowing what to give is already tricky, but going for something zero-waste makes gift shopping even more difficult. If you wish to give someone clothes, look for clothes made of organic cotton or wool. Anything blended with acrylic or nylon will likely contain plastic and will hardly be considered zero-waste. On the other hand, if you wish to give toiletries and beauty products, choose those that do not come in single-use plastic containers and are cruelty-free.
f.) Decorate with zero-waste lights and ornaments
Apart from having a Christmas tree, you will need holiday decor and ornaments to make your homes feel more festive. To make your decor more sustainable, below are just some of the things you can do:
1.) Switch to LED lights
If you are using holiday lights past their prime, make the switch to LED lights in lieu of traditional incandescent lights. LED lights use 75% less energy than their incandescent counterparts and last 25 times longer. In this way, you can save on energy when you choose LED lights. Plus, you do not have to replace them as often.
2.) Turn off your lights or use a timer
Another thing you can do to have a zero-waste holiday season is to minimize energy consumption. Holiday lights typically use a lot of energy. As a result, you will also have a higher energy consumption and electric bill. So be sure to turn these off before you go to sleep. Besides reducing your potential utility costs, turning it off is also for safety reasons. If you are worried about forgetting the lights and leaving them on, you can set up an automatic timer to turn them off at a specific time.
3.) Decorate with DIY ornaments
To better practice zero-waste this Christmas season, opt to give your holiday ornaments a personal touch. Handmade, DIY Christmas ornaments create a unique and eco-friendly way to give your homes a festive flair. You can go natural by using popcorn garlands, dried citrus ornaments, and even long-lasting salt dough keepsakes. You can also opt to bake your own holiday decorations. Admittedly, these take a little more effort, but they are nonetheless fun. Make gingerbread men and apply icing on them in Christmas colors for a truly unique take on zero-waste decor on gifts. Just gently punch a small hole at the top as they are cooling and give it a natural string. From there, your Christmas tree ornament is ready. Just bake a set and you will successfully create your own beautiful and edible tree decorations.
g.) Create natural Christmas wreaths
Another holiday decor seemingly on everyone’s homes during Christmas time is a holiday wreath. Instead of buying a pre-made one from the mall, make your own by grabbing some greens from your garden, wrapping it in a circle, and tying it with string where necessary. From there, you have your own holiday ornament, which you can decorate and personalize as you see fit. Plus, it is entirely free from plastic waste. You can also make these to give as holiday gifts to your neighbors.
Nobody is perfect, and while we endeavor to live sustainably, we all are far from living a wholly plastic-free and zero-waste lifestyle. However, this is not to say we should abandon our efforts. Instead, we should try our best to adopt a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. Reduce waste and lower your carbon footprint. That said, shop and consume mindfully, which means patronizing brands with a sustainable and ethical focus. Finally, remember to do what you and your family love doing, and most importantly, do not forget to enjoy the holidays.