Have Yourself a Merry Little Sustainable Christmas

   ’Tis the season for bountiful love, peace on earth, and lopsided little ginger bread houses. The smell of cinnamon entertains our nostrils as the sound of Christmas music echoes in homes across the globe. It truly is a magical time of year! However, after all of the decadent treats, neatly wrapped presents and thoughtfully curated trees disappear, remaining in their wake, is environmental devastation.

   According to Stanford University, we produce 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. In the United States alone, the extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! They go on to add that:

  •  If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

  • If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

  • The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. 

   These statistics are unquestionably shocking and need to be taken seriously. However, they are not meant to scare you or make you feel guilty about enjoying your favorite holiday season. Rather, they should provide you with some incentive to perhaps slightly alter your special traditions in order to give your family and our planet a wonderful new year! 

    If you are ready to have yourself a merry little sustainable Christmas, try giving some of these suggestions a go!

    Lets talk presents, shall we? We all love them, but perhaps the traditional "material" gift isn't the only way to show someone you care. Instead of a tacky singing fish, try gifting someone with an experience they will never forget!

  Here are some examples to get you started: Find out who their favorite team or band is and get them tickets to see them play. Write cute little IOUs, offering to babysit, clean their kitchen, or take them for ice cream. If you are feeling particularly generous, take them on a nice sustainable vacation! The options are endless, just get creative! 

     O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, O how much we love thee! Christmas trees are a major staple of the Yuletide celebration. Most of us could not imagine waking up on Christmas morning and not seeing presents laying under our beautifully decorated trees. Fortunately, a sustainable christmas, does not mean a christmas without a tree. It just means we need to think twice about the kind of tree we purchase. Look for locally and organically grown trees to avoid harmful pesticides and unnecessary fuel pollution. If you are feeling extra sustainable this year, try finding a potted tree that you can replant after the holidays are over. If you suffer from tree sap allergies and think your only option is an artificial tree, think again! The Leyland Cypress is a sapless tree, therefore, it is well suited for people with allergies. Other tips to keep your tree more allergy friendly include; shaking the tree outside, and/or giving it an old fashioned rub down with vegetable soap and water.

   Deck the Halls with eco-friendly and recycled decorations! A well decorated christmas house is a good christmas house, however, most of the decorations we use to get our houses ready for the holidays are made with toxic and non-biodegradable materials. Opt instead for handmade decorations or decorations made out of recycled and recyclable materials. Need some suggestions as to what recycled decorations might be? Origami ornaments made from recycled paper, pinecone garland, even advent calendars made from old glass jars! If crafting your own decorations just doesn't fit into your schedule, fear not. There are plenty of decorations made from recycled material available on the market, just make sure you read the labels to make sure they are recycled, non-toxic and biodegradable! 

  These are just a few of our favorite tips to get you started on your first Merry Little Sustainable Christmas celebration! 

If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

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