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Happy (Sustainable) Holidays: How to Green the Season and Reduce Your Impact

6 min read

It's almost that time again — the end-of-year celebrations that lighten and brighten the dark days of winter. However, along with all the festivities comes a whole lot of excess in the form of increased electricity use, extravagant purchases, and food and paper waste. While it’s fun to decorate our homes, spoil our loved ones with gifts, and host lavish gatherings, these actions can take their toll on the environment.

The good news: it’s still possible to have a meaningful and fun holiday season while minimizing your environmental impact. From LED lights to eco-friendly feasts, we’ve gathered some great ideas to help make this holiday season — from Thanksgiving through to New Year’s Day — memorable and sustainable.


Arguably, the feasting part of the winter celebrations is huge, and it can be easy to forget about sustainability when planning extravagant holiday menus. You may think that to source the variety of ingredients needed, you have to buy them at the supermarket where many items get shipped in from faraway places. You’ll be glad to know there are better options available.

Below we list a few suggestions for creating delicious holiday meals and treats while avoiding buying habits that contribute to the rise of “industrial food” and increase transportation emissions.


According to the Center for Global Development, all the holiday lights in the U.S. use more electricity than some less-developed countries use in an entire year. If you believe there’s no such thing as too many lights or decorations, read on for a few tips on dressing up your home and yard for the season with less impact.


Many of us have had to rush out to buy a last-minute gift without considering price or suitability much. Ideally, holiday gift-giving should be about sharing the season instead of mindless consumerism that taxes our natural resources, and maxes out our credit cards, with items often ending up in a landfill. For gift giving, it really is the thought that counts. We’ve listed some ways to help reduce our consumption while marking the occasion with a gift.


Holiday wrapping paper is one of the biggest culprits of seasonal waste, with paper cards coming in a close second. Instead of buying rolls and rolls of colored paper that may have originated in an overseas sweatshop and gets destroyed in an instant, consider the following ideas:

Christmas Trees

If you celebrate Christmas and you really want to decorate a tree but are concerned about the environmental impact, read on. There are those among us who decry plastic trees. Then there are others who oppose cutting real trees as that’s not always environmentally sound either. (The debate rages on both sides.) Below we share best practices for choosing a Christmas tree and how best to dispose of it.

No matter what shape your year-end festivities take, you’re now armed with ideas to make this year’s celebrations more sustainable and less wasteful while keeping the fun factor high. Happy Holidays!

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