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It is a winter night in the northern hemisphere, where earth slumbers under countless stars scattered across the blue-black sky. Big stars emit a steady glow, while distant ones are tiny blinking beacons of ice, and still, others cast an angelic radiance, all sharing their brilliance by lighting up our planet’s atmosphere. It is the holiday season when family and friends gather to reconnect and renew bonds.
In response to global warming, many are planning sustainable celebrations this year that uses a holistic approach to change from linear patterns of purchase, consumption, and waste to new circular habits of recycling, renewing, and reducing.
In 2021, eco-friendly and biodegradable holiday gift searches on Etsy were up 48% during the same time in 2020. It is projected that sustainable searches will continue to increase.
Committing to a sustainable Christmas takes extra planning, but once done the first time, it will lighten your load for many holidays.
Start by making this the last year you buy and throw out a Christmas tree. Consider a live tree with the root ball attached. Use a planter on casters and one large enough for your tree to grow. Its constant presence throughout the year will serve as a reminder of the coming holiday season.
Neighborhood and small business owners help maintain a balanced economy. Shop locally for decorations, food, and presents. Although prices may be higher, keeping a business thriving and viable in your community is often worth the extra expense. Not to mention the reduced carbon footprint of your purchases.
Most holiday wrapping paper and ribbon are made from mixed materials that are impossible to recycle, which means they all end up in a landfill. The volume of garbage following the holidays goes up by 25%. Buy cotton wrapping cloth instead. When wrapped around a gift, it becomes an additional gift that can be used countless times as it passes through many hands. The faded pink outline of a tiny hand once covered in cranberry sauce that landed on your new white tablecloth decades ago becomes a treasured memory of good times when you reuse it and the matching napkins year after year.
What do kids really really want for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza? Maybe no more battery-powered gifts since discarded batteries are a hazard to the environment. They leach their toxic contents into the soil and water, which endangers human and animal health.
Re-gifting is taking on pragmatic overtones as the idea of passing on something you have too many of or can’t use to someone who can is helpful. It should be done with care to avoid offending the original giver, but gifts need not and should not be wasted.
What if instead of giving presents, you learned of your family and friends’ favorite charities and donated or volunteered in their name? Giving your time or hard-earned money imparts feelings of renewal, and as it turns out, materialistic overindulgence does not make anyone happy.
Start a sustainable family tradition of exploring nature on an annual holiday hike. It is a tradition that helps build up an appetite for the big meal and where memories, not a football score, will be remembered and flourish.
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.
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