Seven tips for an earth-friendly holiday season

overhead view of table set with food and decorations

Every day we make choices about the world we want to create. As we plan and provide this holiday season, we can choose to be more friendly to the planet, our shared home. Follow these simple steps to make your decorations, gifts, and gatherings more sustainable:

1, Think about materials: Look at the materials gifts are made from and keep sustainability in mind. Ensure wood and paper products are made from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council®-certified (FSC®) materials, and avoid single-use plastics that can’t be recycled. Buying secondhand items like vintage clothes, furniture, and refurbished technology is another great way to gift more sustainably.

2, Test your wrapping skills: Look for cards and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified paper and be sure to recycle. Avoid plastic ribbon and tape and foil-backed papers or those with glitter—which aren’t recyclable. There are many tape-free wrapping techniques online to try, or you can use furoshiki—traditional Japanese cloths used to wrap and transport gifts, making for beautiful, unique, and reusable packaging.

3. Cut your food waste: Food production is the biggest cause of tropical deforestation. Try to cut any waste by planning ahead - be realistic about how much food you need and use up leftovers (keeping them at the front of your fridge so they’re not forgotten). Leftover food may be unavoidable, but you can save it and enjoy it the next day by using eco-friendly reusable food wrap and containers.

4. Set a sustainable table: Avoid single-use tablecloths and napkins and opt for materials that have longer life cycles than their paper equivalents. When it comes to getting out those cranberry sauce stains, washing at lower temperatures helps reduce your environmental footprint.

5. Do your lights right: Use LED lights on your Christmas tree, they use less energy and look just as good. Also, switch off your lights at night - it's safer and won’t waste energy.

6. Don’t forget the tree: If buying a plastic Christmas tree, make sure you’re going to reuse it for at least 10 years; otherwise, it would be better to buy a living tree from a sustainable forest. If buying a real tree, be clear on how to dispose of it once the season is over. Can you turn it into a log pile or mulch in your garden? If not, check with your city or county to make sure it can be recycled.

7. Reconnect to nature: The holiday season is all about spending time with friends and family. Try making one of your festive activities a walk around your local park or nature reserve. Some time spent forest bathing might be the perfect gift for your own self-care.