How To Make Your Holidays More Eco-Friendly
The holiday season is finally here and is in full force, so you might be wondering how to be an environmentally conscious consumer and still enjoy all your favorite traditions sustainably.
However, there's no need to worry!
During the holiday season, with a few simple, sustainable tips, you can reduce your impact on the environment and focus on what really matters during a time when household waste is estimated to rise by over 25%, from 4 million tons to 5 million tons, according to the EPA.
We want your festivities to be easier, more enjoyable, and greener this holiday season, so whether you're giving presents or decorating, you'll make a difference! Here are 10 tips to help you make your winter holidays sustainable and eco-friendly!
1. Use Sustainable Gift Wrap
The pretty paper that covers your gifts under the tree isn't so pretty when it covers the other parts of the planet.
According to Earth911, we produce around 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper, of which 2.3 million pounds, or roughly 50%, end up in landfills. To top it off, wrapping paper and gift bags are printed with unsustainable inks and covered with shiny foil making them unable to be recycled.
The same beautiful, under-the-tree look can still be achieved by wrapping gifts with materials you already have around your house, like magazines, newspapers, and paper shopping bags. Any pretty, clean fabric can also be used as a wrapping material, including old shirts, dishcloths, scarves, and bandannas. Give your bows a creative yet sustainable spin by adding twine, pressed leaves, and pinecones!
2. Make Sustainable Holiday Decorations Or Use Natural Decorations
Use decorations made out of wood and other natural materials instead of filling the inside of your home with plastic that you will throw out at the end of the year.
Make a wintry bouquet by spray painting branches white, silver, gold, or any other color you like using non-toxic and water-based paints, then arranging them in a vase or filling a clear container with pinecones for a rustic centerpiece.
If you have the materials you already have, you can create your own unique, cute holiday decorations with them. Making memento ornaments can be an extra special way to remember all the beautiful memories you once shared.
The projects also make a great way to keep kids entertained while they're on break and can be a way to host a family or friend craft party!
Forbes also has a list of 12 great eco-friendly holiday decor ideas if you need some more inspiration.
3. Get A Real Tree & Recycle It
There's nothing more traditional than a real tree - bringing it home from the forest or neighborhood tree lot, smelling fresh, and creating a holiday atmosphere with a fresh scent. On the other hand, artificial trees are convenient since they can be reused year after year and have lights built in.
In comparison to artificial trees made of plastic, which will take hundreds of years to decompose, real trees are highly eco-friendly.
During the holiday season, about 30 million trees are harvested. Although many trees being harvested may seem detrimental to the environment, pine trees grow rapidly, and when one is cut down, three seeds are planted in their place. The Nature Conservancy also backs up the notion of buying a real tree over artificial ones by stating that “You purchasing a real tree means you’re supporting local tree farmers and helping maintain healthy forests for generations to come.”
Further, many holiday tree farms now offer the option of renting trees, which can be picked up and replanted after the season is over.
Despite this, over 10 million holiday trees are still in landfills yearly. Especially in urban areas, disposing of trees properly can be challenging, but many municipalities offer solutions. You can even donate your tree toward environmental projects, such as stream bank stabilization, by looking into what local programs are available.
The best alternative for people who don't want a real tree or don't want to deal with the hassle of caring for one is to buy a long-lasting festive tree made from sustainable materials or recycled plastic or decorate the plants you already have with decorative lights.
4. Use Energy-Efficient LED Holiday Lights With A Timer
The holiday season is not complete without beautiful light displays. Light displays are everywhere this time of year, whether they're on Christmas trees or house exteriors.
Despite this, the traditional lights that we are familiar with and frequently use are often wasting energy, and pose a fire risk or release toxins when thrown away. Furthermore, they cannot often be recycled despite containing precious metals such as copper.
Luckily, thanks to technology, you can now decorate your house with LED lights which according to the U.S. Department of Energy, use up to 80 percent less energy and last 25 times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs.
Aside from saving you money on electricity, LED holiday lights also offer these sustainable advantages:
- LED bulbs are highly energy-efficient, contain no mercury, and don't get hot to the touch, making them much safer than traditional bulbs.
- Due to their epoxy lenses instead of glass, LED holiday lights can last as long as 50,000 hours with proper care. Plus, the rest of the string remains lit even when one bulb goes out!
- Unlike incandescent holiday lights which can only connect four to five sets, LED strings let you run 40 to 50 together, depending on the light count. As LEDs use so little power, you can run them on batteries or solar panels, saving you even more money.
The joy of spreading holiday cheer all day long is undeniable, but leaving your holiday lights on 24/7 hurts the environment, and there's no reason to leave them on while you're out. Luckily, some varieties - can run on a timer or be controlled wirelessly via an app so that you can turn them on and let your holiday cheer shine bright at the right times!
5. Host Eco-Friendly Holiday Celebrations
Having a holiday party doesn't have to be damaging to the environment! These eco-friendly ideas will impress your guests and save money and time.
Choose non-toxic, natural and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies if you need to clean the house before your guests arrive.
Cutlery & Dishware:
Hosting large parties can tempt us to use paper plates and plastic forks, but resist the urge. By doing this, you will reduce the amount of waste you generate.
There is just as much importance to what you cook as to what you serve it on. When it comes to sustainability, not all foods are created equal.
The United Nations even recently received a report from 107 scientists suggesting promoting plant-based food production can help fight climate change. stating that “Where appropriate, shifting food systems towards plant-rich diets – can lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to current dietary patterns in most industrialized countries.”
However, If you’re not interested in cooking or eating vegetarian or vegan, look for meats with a smaller carbon footprint, like fish or poultry, with a smaller carbon footprint.
Food waste occurs throughout the year, but the indulgence of the holidays can make it even worse. Don't over serve people, and stick to your grocery shopping list. Avoid unpopular dishes and stick to minimal ingredients or natural ingredients for easy composting too!
6. Consider Eco-Friendly Holiday Travel
Most of us don't think about how our travel habits can impact the environment when we visit family or return home for the holidays.
When it comes to travel, carbon dioxide is highest on a plane. The EPA has revealed that “one long flight releases the equivalent of nearly 14 percent of the annual emissions from your car. The same route, when driven, will result in the release of 1.26 tons of carbon emissions”.
Making your holiday trip carbon-neutral is possible by purchasing carbon offsets from reputable sources if you need to travel by air this holiday season.
When traveling by car, carpool as much as possible, take as many passengers as possible, or consider renting an electric vehicle — a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology indicates that driving without passengers and flying with 80% occupancy have similar climate impacts.
Public transportation and charter buses, such as Greyhound or Megabus, as well as Amtrak or LightRail trains, are also money-saving, environmentally friendly options.
7. Give Sustainable Gifts
Holiday stockings are a fun tradition, and if you put a little thought into them, they can become fabulous instead of wasteful. If possible, avoid giving any plastic trinkets or other items that cannot be reused or repurposed.
We recommend our LifeVine Charging Cables and PowerPlant Dual-Port Wall Charger for a practical stocking stuffer. Not only can they charge your loved ones' favorite devices very quickly, but they are also made from 100% recycled post-consumer materials, so they can be used and recycled again and again without making more waste!
The most sustainable gifts are the types that keep giving back!
Look for businesses and shops that are members of 1% For The Planet (just like us!) that donate at least 1% of their total revenue to carefully selected nonprofit organizations. Contributions to 1% For The Planet go to grassroots nonprofits that do meaningful, impactful work to protect and conserve the environment.
Among other gifts, check out our compostable, plant-based phone cases, which come in festive designs in our new Winter Collection as well as classic, runway-inspired designs in our Timeless Collection!
In any case, you will also give our planet a gift!
8. Look For Plastic-Free Packaging
The issue with holiday gift giving often isn't even the products themselves–it's the excessive product packaging that most companies use. In 2018, packaging comprised 28.1% of all municipal solid waste, weighing 82.2 million tons.
As a result, this holiday season, regardless of whether you're shopping online or in-store, make sure to look for products that have minimal packaging, if any at all!
In addition to being plastic-free, you can be assured that any packaging certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is also made with paper that is ethically and sustainably harvested.
Luckily, all EcoBlvd packaging is FSC-certified and uses only recycled paper from ethical suppliers, so our packaging is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, and plastic-free. As part of our commitment to sustainability, 80 percent of our packaging is made of recycled paper, whereas all virgin materials are renewable.
9. Recycle Your Old Cellphone & Its Case
Do you wonder what to do with your old smartphone, tablet, and all of its accessories? You are not alone in this issue, as it is estimated only 17.4 percent of electronic waste is properly recycled worldwide.
In addition to the 65 million cell phones thrown away each year, about 100,00 plastic phone cases go into our landfills, where they accumulate hazardous elements like mercury, cadmium, and lead.
You can now recycle your old phone or tablet at any Staples store, take it to your local e-waste recycling facility, or trade it in with your carrier or online buyback program.
EcoBlvd also accepts plastic cases and chargers to recycle and properly dispose of as part of our Roundabout Recycling Program. Regardless of who made the case, if it protects an electronic device like a phone, tablet, AirPods, etc., we will accept it. You can also bring us chargers for electronic devices! You can send in everything from wall, car, and travel adapters to cables so we can properly dispose of them!
10. Donate Your Time Or Money to an Environmental Cause
There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than volunteering!
The number of ways you can make a difference to your community and the planet is endless! From cleaning up a local river or beach to providing environmental education resources to schools, you can make a huge difference!
A donation to a charity is also a more sustainable alternative to a physical gift. Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to society as it is also altruistic. It is important to keep in mind that charitable donations don't leave behind any waste and that giving to charity is often a tax-deductible donation.
EcoBlvd offers an easy way to get a gift as well as a charitable donation.
A 2% donation from any of our clear Laguna phone cases goes to the Ocean Conservancy, while any solid Sequoia phone case helps the National Forest Foundation plant a tree in a national park. Moreover, a portion of the proceeds from LifeVine's Charging Cables and the PowerPlant Dual-Port Wall Charger go toward environmental education and renewable energy initiatives.
Additionally, we offer free ground shipping and carbon-neutral checkout options through EcoCart and ShopPay at checkout.
Whatever way you celebrate this year, we wish you a safe, joyful, and sustainable holiday season and hope that these tips will follow you well into the new year!