10 Tips to Help You Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably
‘Tis the season for gift giving, festive foods, and celebrating time with family and loved ones. And while it’s easy to get caught up in excess ribbon and wrapping paper, the extra 25 million tons of waste - about 1 million extra tons per week - created between Thanksgiving and New Years, we would rather end this year on a low note - a low impact note, that is.
After all, the holidays are about giving, and no one is more worthy to give to than Mother Earth herself. In a year where slow and intentional living was more of a forced gift to the masses, rather than the typical conscious choice by a select few, carrying on the eco-friendly theme into the holidays seems like the only natural thing to do.
So let’s wrap a big bow around our celebrations, starting with the 38,000 miles of ribbon - enough to wrap around the planet - that is wasted every year, and discover 10 ways to celebrate the holiday's sustainability.
BUY A REAL TREE
While preventing deforestation is one of the most effective ways to slow climate change, Christmas trees are not grown in forests. Additionally, they store a lot of carbon - enough to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent.
Making the case for real trees even further, The National Christmas Tree Association claims that for every tree purchased, farmers plant 1 to 3 seedlings in its place.
This means that three times the amount of trees used are planted every year when you buy one. Add in recycling the tree at the end of its use, and getting a real tree wins, hands down.
Even better, make the tree a plantable holiday tree, and you’ll have it for many years to come.
RETHINK GIFT WRAP
Four million tons. That’s the amount of wasted wrapping paper that ends up in landfills each year. Rather than wasting money on rolls of tacky paper, get creative! Unused maps, paper bags, even scraps of material, can be creative alternatives.
Better yet, buy a gift from a sustainable clothing store like Nui, so your delivery arrives in a cornstarch bag that biodegrades in a matter of months. Rather than hiding the gift inside under wrapping paper, you can give the gift in the eco-friendly bag, to add a unique twist to the gift while helping save the planet.
And even if it’s too late to get a gift by the big day, this low impact holiday solution works for any special occasion, all year long.
TRADE PAPER CARDS FOR A VIRTUAL ONE
Gift cards were once a personal way to let our loved ones know we were thinking about them. But considering this is the 21st century and that they will most likely end up in the trash anyway - we’re wearing out sustainable values on our sleeve this holiday season, especially when it comes to the tradition of sending holiday cards.
What could be more personal and sustainable than calling or Zooming with your friends and family instead? Even sending a video Direct Message via social media, is a personal and easy way to express your holiday love.
GIFT A GIFT CARD FROM YOUR FAVORITE SUSTAINABLE STORE
What could be better for the giver and receiver than a gift card to a favorite sustainable store? Eco-friendly and zero waste, a gift card allows the recipient to choose a gift they love.
From start to finish, this zero waste gift is one both the giver and receiver can feel good about.
PLANT A GARDEN
One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of focus from people when thinking about the holidays, is the amount of food we waste. Of the 80 billion pounds of unused food purchased during the holidays - a whopping 219 pounds of waste per person and 30-40 percent of the US food supply - most of it ends up in landfills, making food the single largest polluter in US landfills.
By planting a garden this holiday season, you not only will become healthier in your diet, but you will help the environment by reducing air and noise pollution, erosion, and energy costs, minimizing carbon footprint, filtering the groundwater, and providing a food and home source for various animals and insects.
Plus, if turned into a family activity, you can start a healthy holiday tradition that you can enjoy all year long!
GET CRAFTY AND CREATIVE
The best gifts are often the ones the giver takes time to make. Whether your passion is baking, sewing, crafting, knitting, painting - hand crafted gifts is an activity you can do with your entire family, and one that is always remembered.
If you have kids, make it a family project, and collect leaves, twigs, flowers, and create a one of a kind piece of art.
GIFT AN EXPERIENCE
Nothing is better than spending time with those you love… unless it's spending time with them outside in nature! And in a year of a pandemic, planning a trip to a scenic spot outdoors is a safe and fun activity that will create memories to last a lifetime.
Better yet, turn your gift into one for Mother Earth herself! Gather your family and friends for an outing to a local park or beach, and help clean it up. You’ll get all of the benefits of being with your loved ones, being outside in nature, AND doing something wonderful for the planet and your community.
GIVE SUSTAINABLE & NATURAL FIBER CLOTHING
An obvious favorite idea of ours, but in fact, giving your recipient a timeless and high quality Merino Wool Sweater or Top for themselves or gifting their children a Merino Wool Thermal set they will be able to grow into and have for years, is a gift that they will appreciate and be thanking you for throughout the years.
Not only does sustainable and natural clothing help your loved one simplify their wardrobe with classic pieces they will have for years, but because it’s magical merino wool, the pieces will require less laundering, and allow them less time spent shopping because it will last for years.
GIVE COMMUNITY SCHOOL PROGRAMS A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Life changed for everyone in 2020, and that includes schooling, affecting parents and children around the world.
While at Nui, we champion home school programs, Waldorf schools, and nature schools - but this year, ALL schools need a boost to help them provide the best educational opportunities for their students.
You can help schools in your community thrive within The Nui Sustainability for Schools Program Program. Whether it is alerting your own child’s school or sharing it with your friends so they can have their school join, this free program helps nature-based and alternative schools find a creative way to increase funding so they can take on new students, and to expand and grow, financial support is critical to keeping these programs thriving.
Give a low impact gift that has a high impact value to your community this year.
GO LOW BY GOING SLOW
If you’re like most of us, you’re short on time and energy. As women, we tend to want to take care of everyone else, before we take care of ourselves.
But celebrating a #lowimpactholiday is about lowering your own stress and anxiety first. After all, you can’t be your best to make smart, and sustainable choices, if you are depleted and drained.
Allowing yourself to slow down, be kind to yourself, and to care is about reconnecting to your own sustainable values, will allow you more time, focus, and energy to be your best for your family, friends, and even the planet.
LOW IMPACT LIVING FOR A HIGH IMPACT LIFE
We just shared 10 ways to celebrate a low impact holiday, but low impact living does not start or end here. Amongst the many things we learned in 2020, we learned how much we all needed to slow down.
While the lockdowns around the world were not welcome, it did provide people AND the planet, a chance to breathe. We were given the opportunity to connect with what is important - our families, values, and ourselves - and to truly appreciate the beautiful gifts found in nature.
We will never forget this critical, life changing year. So let’s end it on a high - rather low - impact note, and with the holidays and beyond, let’s make it the year we took back our planet.