The holiday season, unfortunately, is often one ridden with waste. Dumpsters quickly fill, and we know it’s a problem. The waste we see and create is not in the spirit of our gatherings meant to sow love and hope. Still, it’s hard to know what to do about it. Here are some tips that we hope will help you create and enjoy a more sustainable season of giving:
- Buy less. It is easy to fall into the thought process that we need a pile of presents in order to show our love. But a thoughtful gift can mean much more than many items purchased out of habit.
- Practice alternative gift-giving through donations to causes meaningful to you and your loved ones, a book or item that has been meaningful to you from your own home, your own artwork (a picture, a poem, a song, a photograph, etc.), crafts from local artisans, a book from a local bookstore, homemade baked goods, or by gifting an experience (a “gift certificate” for a day spent together or a special activity).
- Strive to avoid/limit plastic (especially single-use plastic). As you shop for decorations and gifts, pay attention to packaging and material. It can be helpful to ask yourself, when considering a purchase, how often this item will be used and how long the item would take to biodegrade.
- Look for toys made from natural and/or recycled materials. Children’s toys are often the most challenging place to practice sustainability during the holidays. Here are some sustainable kid’s toy companies to check out. You can also google “cloth toys,” “wooden toys,” or “recycled toys” for more options. Many local toy stores carry exciting sustainable options. Books are also, always, a wonderful option!
- Use the real silverware. Instead of using single-use plastic utensils to cut down on clean-up time, put on some holiday music and clean up with the family. Make a game out of how quickly you can pick up OR who has the best “cleaning up” dance moves.
- Buy from local farmers if you can. If you plan on having a large holiday meal, check out these North Carolina farmers markets and these producers selling local and sustainably/humanely raised meats.
- Be kind to yourself! We all make unsustainable purchases and decisions, and it is easy to allow guilt to take over. Remember that we are each doing our imperfect part and that we will keep striving! Day by day.