When you’re planning your gift-giving this Christmas, give a little something back to the planet, too. These five easy tips will reduce the environmental impact of your holiday celebrations, while also keeping your family healthy, safe and happy.
Gingerbread, eggnog and peppermint candles add a seasonal fragrant touch to your home. But did you know they could also be adding lead and other carcinogens? It’s true. Cheap candles often contain lead-cored wicks and paraffin-filled wax, both of which release harmful toxins when burned and inhaled. Shop your local craft market for organic, handmade candles with no harmful ingredients, or simply simmer some herbs, spices and citrus zest in a pot on the stove to fill your home with a heart-warming scent.
Almost ten percent of the U.S.’s energy goes towards producing, processing and transporting foods. By shopping for locally-grown, seasonal foods you can reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas dinner. For a first course, make a sweet and creamy soup by roasting and pureeing local root vegetables, like carrots, parsnips and rutabaga. Then, serve up a free-range turkey purchased directly from a local farmer (most health food stores can help organize this transaction). For dessert, combine in-season fruits like oranges, grapefruit and pomegranate into a palate-cleansing fruit salad.
Find Your Forever Tree
Studies have found that artificial Christmas trees are more eco-friendly than living Christmas trees, as long as you’re able to keep them for more than six years. Shop for a PVC-free tree and treat it with care so that it will stand by your family for many Christmases to come. If you’ve got your heart set on a living Christmas tree, look for a potted evergreen that you can re-plant in your yard after the ground thaws. Repeat this year after year and soon you’ll have your very own Christmas forest!
Wrapping paper is beautiful, but it’s also wasteful. You can reduce the amount of wrapping paper waste your family generates by making a few simple swaps. Instead of purchasing new wrapping paper, try wrapping with papers that would otherwise be recycled. Wrap a gorgeous coffee table book in an old map, or wrap an exciting new toy in colorful pages from the newspaper’s comics section. Want to get creative? Take a hint from the Japanese, who love giving gifts in reusable cloth bags.
Give the Gift of Nature
This year, challenge yourself to step out of your gifting comfort zone by giving gifts inspired by nature. To test the waters, considering giving eco-friendly living gifts like a beautiful terrarium or an indoor plant in the perfect pot. If you’re ready to go one step further, give your loved ones a family-friendly year-round coupon booklet valid for outdoor activities like a spring bike ride, summer camping trip, autumn stroll through the leaves and winter ski getaway. These activities will bring your family closer together while also having a positive impact on the planet.
the Greenest Christmas ever
Incorporating these eco-friendly ideas into your holiday planning will benefit your health, your wallet and your spirit. By implementing even one or two of these ideas, you could make this your greenest Christmas ever!