A Greener Holiday

And not in the money aspect. There’s enough commercialism this time of year as is. What I want to refer to is making the holiday season more sustainable.

We don’t necessarily think about the impact of the holidays outside of bright Christmas lights and decorated trees. There’s too many other things to focus on that we get distracted from the potential of all the waste and energy needed to make the “Christmas magic” happen.

As with probably every Christmas post, I’m bound to bash commercialism and capitalism in general, that incessant need to want new gifts and decor every year, looking for the cheapest, quickest, easiest bargain. We want life to be as convenient as possible, and the holidays are no exception. While I look forward to every store filling up special areas full of new Christmas-related items, I keep in mind the fact that a lot of it is not very eco-friendly.

Not to say that we haven’t gotten better at being more energy-efficient, with LED lights to deck the halls. And especially not feeling the need to blind every neighbor with elaborate decor. I already know I’ll be someone who goes all-out for Christmas, but if that means I’ll have to skip out on some extra lights, I’m okay with that.

But perhaps the most important message of all is to recycle. If there is one thing we receive on Christmas, it’s waste. The wrapping paper, packaging, even the Christmas trees themselves, everything could easily end up in a landfill. I know I have many memories of my family getting together to open gifts and ending up with a garbage bag full of wrapping paper. Luckily we’re pretty good about reusing boxes and packaging, along with keeping a few boxes of bows to reuse every year.

Even the gifts we give and ask for could keep the environment in mind. As I get older, I see a lot of value in gifts that are more based on memories and experiences rather than items, such as money to travel or concert tickets. In the case of items, especially upgrading to the next model on electronics, make sure to find a place to recycle last year’s model. Shop locally whenever possible, but if that isn’t really an option, try to have your shipping come through the postal service to avoid having extra transportation from UPS or FedEx.

You can obviously do your research on more ways to be eco-friendly during the holidays, but simply having mindfulness during the hustle and bustle, slowing down to realize the repercussions even just a month of extra materials and energy being passed around can do long-term. Climate change doesn’t exactly take a break for the holidays. If we adopt habits throughout the year about consuming less and reusing more, it doesn’t make much sense to throw those ideas out the window for Christmas.

And this is coming from someone who specifically goes to stores this time of year just to look at their seasonal section. I love seeing all of the different knickknacks and special items and decor on the shelves with Christmas music playing in the background. If retailers are targeting a certain audience for Christmas-themed everything, I am the ideal person they want. Except if everyone acted on the impulses that I have, we’ll continue to spend billions of dollars on Christmas gifts and send billions of cards. It’s good-intentioned, but not entirely. But it’s not hard to revamp, we just have to be open and aware.

As cheesy as it sounds, when we slow down to reflect on the true reason for the holidays, changing a few traditions for the sake of the present and future just makes sense. The season should be focused on connecting with others, appreciating the beauty around us, and all of the little things that truly make this time of year bright, whether that be feeling the warmth of a hot beverage in your hands, watching the flickering light of a candle, hearing the distant ringing of bells, or smelling freshly baked goodies.

Simplifying Christmas to its core elements not only helps others and the world, it helps ourselves to avoid the extra stress that also comes this time of year. Of course, making Christmas greener should be for sustainability reasons, but knowing that you personally will benefit also helps. Maybe changes can turn into new traditions for years to come. Hopefully Christmas can still be white, but maybe a little green wouldn’t hurt, either.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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