Want to do your part in going (or staying) green this holiday season? Check out our tips for eco-friendly shopping, decorating, dining, and travel.
1. Minimize gift giving.
The more we buy, the more plastic, packaging, and waste we produce. Try a Yankee swap with family and friends so you only buy one gift. (Check out our gift guide for inspiration!) You can also make gifts or search thrift shops for secondhand presents.
You can also give quality time. Allot time to do something together with loved ones—like baking cookies, volunteering, or hiking—instead of opening presents. Or, try gifting an experience like concert tickets, a gift certificate to a wine tasting, museum admission, or rock-climbing lessons.
2. Research eco-friendly decorations.
From popcorn strings to recycled steel pipe menorahs, there are lots of ways to reduce and reuse in your decorating. Look into beeswax candles, which burn cleanly and aren’t derived from petroleum.
3. Offset your carbon use.
You can’t avoid carbon emissions through air travel, but you can offset them by investing in forests. Trees are superheroes when it comes to keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. By purchasing carbon offsets, you support landowners who manage forests.
4. Buy a real Christmas tree.
Artificial trees are reusable but are made of plastic and are often imported. Buying a real tree reduces carbon footprint and supports local businesses. Find a list of conserved tree farms in our gift guide, and make an outing of it!
Bonus: real trees can be composted, turned to mulch, or fed to farm animals. (Check out our upcoming tree recycling event on January 4.)
5. Reduce your energy output.
Decorate with LED light strings, and plug your decorative lighting into a timer to save electricity. If you buy battery-powered toys, consider purchasing rechargeable batteries with it.
6. Shop thoughtfully.
Remember your reusable bags, carpool to shopping centers, and buy locally. Look for gifts that are locally made, fair-trade, or are made of natural materials like wood or metal. (We have a great list of local vendors that also have conserved land!)
7. Support a local environmental group.
Pro tip: Vermont Land Trust protects forests and farms in your state; email Kate to learn about becoming a member, or to donate in the name of a friend or relative. You can also ask people donate to your choice nonprofit instead of getting you a gift.
8. Rethink your gift wrap.
Most wrapping paper and ribbon is not recyclable. Get creative; try using old newspaper, scarves, or sheet music to wrap gifts. You can also send eco-friendly cards or emails.
9. At the dinner table:
Stick to reusable utensils and plates instead of disposable ones. Avoid extra packaging by buying in bulk, buy locally (Vermont has so many winter farmers’ markets), and aim for homemade.
Post-dinner, compost scraps. All cooking oils are biodegradable; after frying those latkes (potato pancakes), mix the oil with sawdust, fertilizer, and lime for the compost bin.
10. Recycle your old cellphone and electronics.
Electronics are popular gifts during the holiday season, but what to do with your old ones? Electronic devices contain toxic materials and precious metals that should be recovered and recycled instead of thrown into a landfill. Check out Vermont’s e-cycles program for info on recycling your monitors, printers, televisions, and phones.
11. Incorporate eco-friendly practices into your New Year’s resolution.
Pro tip: your green-up can outlast the holiday season. Think about ways to reduce your plastic use in 2020, aim to lower your energy consumption, or look for opportunities to support local conservation groups like VLT.