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The holiday season is typically seen as a time of love, care, and generosity for friends, loved ones, and those less fortunate. These seasonal traditions are a great exercise in morality, compassion, and empathy for one another, but they do not have to stop with those around us. During the holidays, we must extend our care to the environment — after all, we could not hope to celebrate without it.

Here are a few ways to be more sustainable during the holidays.


Give sparingly

Take a sparse approach to your holiday giving habits — not by being selfish or stingy, but by being eco-friendly in terms of gifts and cards. Reuse wrapping paper, gift bags, and other packaging materials for new gift ideas, and consider making cards instead of purchasing them. In many cases, these arrangements are found to be more heartfelt and original anyway.


Eat sparingly

Again, this suggestion is deceiving on the surface — you do not have to cut down the amount you eat during the holidays, but make sure you are selecting and purchasing foods with a sustainable mindset. Buy snacks and beverages in bulk to avoid extra packaging, and consider homemade alternatives to store-bought dishes for the same reason. Furthermore, use washable utensils and dishes in lieu of disposable options (even if the latter seems more convenient).


Celebrate sparingly

Holiday parties and gatherings are an easy place to implement sustainability. Design meals and eating arrangements around all that is renewable and recyclable, all while monitoring water and electricity use by guests. At the same time, encourage guests to recycle any materials otherwise be wasted. You absolutely do not have to sit in a dark room, but keep these matters in mind amidst your merriment.


Use a real Christmas tree

It may seem like a more sustainable choice to use an artificial Christmas tree, but real trees are actually the more sustainable choice in the long run. Plastic trees not only use up excess materials during their production, packaging, and shipping, they also found to be regularly disposed of after several uses due to a decline in appearance. Conversely, supporting tree farms promotes the added planting and growth of new trees, which contribute to air quality and can be recycled into mulch.


Use holidays as sustainable opportunities

If someone in your life is on the fence about committing to a sustainable lifestyle, perhaps green-themed holiday activities and gifts will spur them on to make these plans a reality. For instance, start a seasonal tradition of going on a family hike or taking part in a nature restoration activity. This approach will bring you the joy of holiday bonding with friends and family, all while directing your efforts to a great cause.