Sustainability and the Holiday Season: What to Do

A study conducted in the United States found that whenever we reach the holiday season, every person produces an additional amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is 1,400 more pounds per person in the U.S.—and there are irreversible consequences for this. Unfortunately, what should be more fun and joyous time for the entire world is causing so much harm to our planet.

More than ever, the holidays are a good time to make a statement for the planet. Here are some tips for having a greener or more sustainable Christmas and New Year.

Opt for more long-lasting design changes

Some of our more harmful choices include incorporating massive Christmas decor that is made of not-so-eco-friendly materials, like massive Santa Clause balloons and mangers, only for these design elements to be thrown away by the end of the season.

If you genuinely want to celebrate the festive season without doing too much damage to the environment, why not make longer-lasting design changes that will last for years to come? Instead of adding decor made of plastic or other non-biodegradable materials, why not opt for a new paint job—like a shade of red that can look good all year round?

You can also opt for a new design or color for your floors; experiment with staining through concrete acids, and you instantly incorporate more shine and oomph to your interiors. If you truly want to make design decisions that won’t put too much strain on the planet, experiment with design choices that can add some pizzazz to your home but will also last for a long time.

Choose in-season veggies

One of the biggest ways you can make your Christmas and New Year celebrations much more environmentally friendly is by eating with the seasons or opting for veggies that are most available during winter, like the following:

  • Apples
  • Winter squash
  • Leeks
  • Avocados
  • Turnips
  • Bananas
  • Swiss chard
  • Beets
  • Yams
  • Lemons
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Rutabagas
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Collard
  • Pineapples
  • Greens
  • Pears
  • Grapefruit
  • Limes
  • Parsnips
  • Herbs
  • Oranges
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Kiwifruit

Opting for more seasonal and organic ingredients will not only help you support nature-friendly farmers but also means using much fewer pesticides during the season.

Reduce food waste

food waste

Speaking of food, Christmas and New Year gatherings are also the best time to significantly reduce our food waste. Studies show that in Europe alone, around 88 million tons worth of food waste is created every year. Many people will argue against incrementalism and will say that lasting change will not come from a few households reducing their food waste, and it’s true.

We need governments and policymakers to step in and make changes from the top to the bottom to truly make a positive impact on the planet. But if more people are educated about this, who’s to say our collective action won’t make a lasting impact as well?

Here are some ways to reduce your household’s food waste during this holiday season:

  • Make a plan before you even come up with dishes. From the beginning, think of how you can maximize the peels and leftovers from the dishes you will prepare.
  • Ensure that you only buy what you need. Your pre-planning will play a huge part in this.
  • Choose the oddly-shaped or ugly vegetables and fruits because other consumers may not pick them up from the store. They taste the same and are not old or overripe. Moreover, mature fruits are better for juices, smoothies, and desserts because they’re much sweeter.
  • Store your fruits and veggies wisely. Keep moving products around so that your new ones are at the back and your older ones are more accessible. It will help ensure your food doesn’t go bad before using them. Invest in some airtight containers to ensure that they remain fresh in your fridge, and make sure the packets are correctly sealed so that insects can’t get in.
  • Understand how food labeling works. Don’t get confused by “use-by” and “best before” dates. Check the ingredients as well, since you never know when certain products have more preservatives, trans fats, and added salt or sugar.

Opting for a more sustainable Christmas and New Year might be additional work and effort, but it’s a great way to declare that you care about how your choices impact the planet. Consider sharing about your journey on social media, but don’t forget to do so with much tact and humility instead of self-righteousness and nagging. We catch more flies for the cause with honey. Happy holidays!

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