The holidays are a time to come together with friends and family, eat massive amounts of food, and ring in the new year. For many, it’s also a time of traveling and consuming, which can be both expensive and not all that environmentally friendly.
Check out our Mother Earth-approved tips for enjoying a stylish and sustainable holiday season.
Sustainable Gift Wrapping Options
If you're looking to add a little sustainable flair to your gift presentation, we suggest using brown paper bags (inside out) decorated using various craft items like stamps, paint, or sharpies. Or for an even more organic approach, embellish with actual naturally-derived materials like leaves and branches.
For those too busy or wary of being too crafty, Wrappily is a great alternative. Their wrapping paper is made out of 100% recycled newspaper and is 100% recyclable.
Sustainable Hanukkah Options
Petroleum-based paraffin wax candles release unwanted chemicals into the air, which could contribute to developing health risk like cancer, common allergies, and asthma and best avoided during your Hanukkah festivities. Luckily, there are plenty of natural candle alternatives that utilize organic vegetable waxes like soy.
The best alternative wax for non-vegans is beeswax candles - preferably dye-free, biodegradable, and hypo-allergenic. There are a number of inexpensive options to choose from that keep your family and your environment safe - just make sure that you are supporting your local bee farmers and not contributing to the degradation of our bee population.
Sustainable Christmas Tree Options
The most environmentally friendly tree option is to rent a living tree. Services such as Our City Forest allow you to rent a tree for up to a month and replant it upon return.
Artificial trees are the biggest no-no due to being primarily produced abroad with harmful PVC plastics, thus a much larger carbon footprint than a freshly cut tree. Unfortunately, cut trees are often grown with harmful chemicals and the availability of sustainably-farmed trees are limited. Check out greenpromise.com for a list of organically grown and low-spray Christmas tree options. If you do decide to purchase a cut tree, many local businesses and and municipalities offer Christmas tree recycling options.
For those tight on space, an alternative “tree” is an innovative and environment friendly option. Ask your local tree dealer for loose branches (or forage for yourself) to create your own tree-wall tapestry. Cut the branches in descending lengths and lay them out accordingly in tree formation. Tack on corresponding lights and hang ornaments on the branches with twine for a festive, inexpensive, and space conscious solution.
Sustainable Gift Giving
There are always people on the list who are hard to shop for. Instead of taking the risk of purchasing an unwanted gift, which wastes packaging materials and shipping costs, give a thoughtful card with a handwritten note and a voucher to a service or activity like a massage or the person’s favorite restaurant - something they can experience instead of
Carpooling is the easiest and one of the cheapest ways to travel. If you can’t find a friends to join you on your journey, there are a handful of services that can connect you to others traveling to and from the same place as you, like Zimride or eRideShare. Another cheap and greener way to travel is taking a bus service like MegaBus or Greyhound, which have multiple routes to most regional cities across the nation.
Gift Donations and Charity Registry
Instead of leaving the gift giving ideas up to your friends and family, create a gift registry where they can donate to your favorite charities and non-profit organizations in your name. Small Token is a NYC start-up that makes giving and receiving meaningful, charitable gifts incredibly easy. All you have to do is create your registry, and invite friends and family. You will receive an email notification once a donation is made.