With holiday season among amidst a global pandemic it can become challenging to throw the annual holiday get together. This year the holidays will be a bit different no doubt, but what if it didn't all have to be so bad? You can make a change starting 2020 in how you choose to celebrate the holidays this year. This year has brought a brand new lifestyle upon us, so how about trying a zero waste lifestyle with a zero waste holiday? If you're not sure how to do that don't worry, we've put together a little holiday list for you!
1. Create the packaging: As of last year I started reusing my brown paper bags as wrapping paper. With a little bit of twine and a dried up flower in between you can create beautiful, rustic and zero waste packaging! If brown paper bags aren't for you then try some old cloth. You can wash it and cut it up and then tie it up with ribbon that you have lying around (we all have a stash of old ribbon somewhere.) You can take it up a notch and even draw on the cloth or the paper bag, really adding your touch to the wrapping paper.
2. Eco gifts! - Stop buying guilt gifts, chances are they'll end up gathering dust or re-gifted to gather more dust. Instead buy eco gifts, gifts that people will actually use and won't end up becoming piles of plastic waste. Some ideas could be plants, succulents make for some amazing gifts! You can make a painting, write a song, knit a sweater or gift some eco beauty products! Look out for eco logos like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, scientific Certification Systems (SCS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Energy Star and Palm Oil Free when buying your green gifts. We are currently selling 2 holiday baskets with a variety of soaps and loofahs. For more information check out our product page!
3. Ban plastic trees- It took me a while to learn that those reusable synthetic Christmas trees that we've been buying are actually worse for the environment that the natural evergreen ones. Around 90% of the 10 million plastic trees are shipped from China meaning a large increase in carbon emission during the holiday season. And though they are reusable they are not recyclable! So whats the argument for the real tree? Well you are actually supporting the forests by buying the real tree, out of the 500 million farm trees only 30 million are really harvested for Christmas. And though you may argue that we should not be cutting down trees, science proves that if we carefully cut down forests we can actually help their growth.
Innovative tree management is actually a key strategy in combating climate change, which is why more than half of the US forests are privately owned. Those forests that are well maintained actually store just as much carbon as the unmanaged forest does. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, for every tree cut down tree farmers have to legally plant 1-3 more seeds.
In the long run, it really depends on what you do with the tree afterwards. More information on that below.
4. Repurpose your tree - There are countless of ways you can repurpose your Christmas tree. First one is, you can chip it and use the bark as mulch for your compost. Or break off the twigs and make a bird feeder, use the pine needles to create air fresheners. If you break down the tree completely you can use the entire tree for composting purposes. You can even use the bark as firewood for the cold winter nights. Most states have organizations that use these donated Christmas trees for conservation and habitat projects in their local communities.
If you want to get really creative and start upcycling your Christmas tree I came across a very useful website: https://empressofdirt.net/repurpose-xmas-trees/
5. Skip the tree! - Or you can completely forget about the whole tree dilemma all together and skip it! I've seen plenty of 'Wall Trees' where people use their walls to create a tree. You can make a flat surface plywood tree, you construct it into a large Christmas tree like shape, nail it to your wall and string yarn across it where you can place Christmas cards! A pine cone tree always makes for beautiful substitutes or even a wire tree. Here is another link to show you 40 alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree: https://www.hgtv.com/lifestyle/holidays/alternative-christmas-trees-pictures
6. Eco decorations- For years now my sisters and I have been using old scrap paper to make large snowflakes. You can even use dried up orange slices to decorate your tree, string some popcorn or even wrap some lights around a pine cone. Fill the house with eco friendly soy wax candles or make a wreathe out of paper and twine. Get in the kitchen and make some salt dough decoration, poke a hole and you can string them around the house. If you're not into DIY then keep a loot out for brands like Nkuku that make decorations out of brass, glass and wood.
7. Eco Utensils - If you want to avoid washing plates and dishes and are looking into disposable plates, thats okay but just say not to plastic! Refrain from buying the cheap plastic plates, forks and spoons. Nor do they look good or are they good for the environment. Invest in some bamboo or palm leaf plates from brands like World Centric. The great thing about these plates is that you can actually wash them and use them a couple times! Check out our blog on 'How To Throw An Eco Party' for more information.
These are just a few ways in which you can enjoy the holiday season and make it eco friendly! Remember that the alternative does not have to be boring, and the pandemic does not necessarily mean a dull holiday. Take the time and learn how you can make an enjoyable holiday season for you and the planet! Feel free to share some more ideas below!