Eco-friendly Tips for Holiday Celebrations

As the holidays approach, we have gathered a collection of climate-conscious tips to make your celebrations a little more eco-friendly. By applying even a few of these ecological suggestions throughout the year, you can make a substantial difference.

In America, our national holidays can be a time of excess and create a significant amount of waste. We have an opportunity to be more strategic about how we choose to shop, eat, and decorate our homes.

Eco-friendly Decorations

  1. Use recycled centerpieces. You don’t have to buy new seasonal centerpieces each year. Grab an old sheet for a table cloth, use empty glass jars, add some ribbon or twine, or get creative with flowers or pinecones from your backyard. There are lots of natural, wasteless ways to decorate your table.
  2. Choose (or make) organic candles. In the summer, citronella candles (and tiki torches) can help keep the bugs away, and they also provide that festive glow to your evening celebrations. Then on colder evenings, soy and DIY candles look holiday-sheik and also make a great seasonal gift.
  3. Switch to solar-powered outdoor lights. At a minimum, you’d benefit from investing in LED lighting to reduce your energy usage (and don’t forget the timers so your lights don’t burn all night long), but go the extra mile and get solar-powered lighting that doesn’t even require energy!
  4. Find natural decorations. Whenever possible, try to use real flowers instead of plastic, experiment with sticks and pine cones for that farmhouse feel, and get creative with things you don’t have to worry about ending up in a landfill down the line.
  5. Reuse wrapping and gift bags. Save that old newspaper and nice foil wrapping, hang onto ribbons and bows, and yes, here’s your excuse to keep collecting those old gift bags. If you find that you’ve got too many gift bags stashed away, thin out your options by keeping only solid colors (for versatility) and recycle or donate the rest.

Cut Back on Food Waste

  1. Shop local and organic. Whenever possible, try to source local meat and produce, shop from your neighborhood food market or farmer’s market, and buy organic when you can. Your food will taste better, and your local farmers will thank you!
  2. Prepare only what you plan to eat. Plan ahead for your menu and try to get an accurate headcount so you can purchase only what you need in order to minimize food waste.
  3. Use non-disposable dishes. Instead of paper plates and plastic utensils, consider reusable dishes to reduce unnecessary waste. You might even want to ask your guests to bring their own glass or ceramic containers to take home leftovers.  
  4. Avoid individually canned/bottled drinks. For soda, consider 2-liter bottles, and use your own pitchers for iced tea, lemonade, water, or your favorite fruit punch.

Sustainable Gifts

  1. Repurpose or recycle gifts. Just because you didn’t want it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t appreciate it. Paint that old picture frame, or turn glass jars into planters. Have a gardener in your family? Even plant trimmings make a thoughtful gift.  
  2. Homemade goodies for DIY gifts. Who doesn’t love fresh baked chocolatey goodness? Or for something savory, consider making your own trail mix, beef jerky, or dehydrated fruit.
  3. Give an experience to remember. Instead of giving “stuff”, consider giving concert tickets or a cooking lesson. Sporting events and dance classes are also fun.
  4. Digital gift cards. When you don’t know what else to give, we often default to gift cards. You can choose your favorite online store or eco-friendly company and either print or email a gift card so they can order something they really want.
  5. Shop for sustainable gifts. Look online for environmentally conscious retailers. Consider the packaging and recyclability when making your final choices. 
  6. Skip the overnight shipping. If ordering online, try to minimize the number of truck deliveries by consolidating their trips to your doorstep, or consider curbside pickup to lower your gift’s carbon footprint.

Even the smallest changes can make a difference. Decorate your home and show off your eco-friendly practices while celebrating the holidays with your family and friends. Continue these practices throughout the year, and we can all enjoy a greener, healthier tomorrow.