Season’s Greenings

In preparation for the gift-giving season, we present alternative behaviors and resources to help you celebrate in an eco-friendly way. 

Sustainable Gifting

Wrapping Paper – Most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, and single-use wrapping has a considerable environmental footprint. Here are some ideas for reducing waste.

  • Use newspapers, magazines, junk mail, or any other paper that would otherwise have gone to a landfill. 
  • Consider reusable fabric, ideally with a second purpose like gift bags, scarves or kitchen towels. 
    • Give furoshiki a try! This is a Japanese tradition of wrapping items of value in decorative cloth.
  • If you stick with traditional wrapping paper, there are still ways to create less waste and lasting memories at the same time.  
    • Use recyclable paper – anything with glitter or foil is unlikely to be recyclable.
    • Use the ‘scrunch test’ – if you can ‘scrunch’ it, you can probably recycle it!
    • You can also look for the FSC label on wrapping products, which is certified recyclable.
    • Make your own wrapping paper! For example, unwaxed butcher paper is recyclable and the waxed version is compostable. For extra family fun, consider decorating the paper with potato stamps.

Choosing Gifts – One of the biggest ways we can all reduce our environmental footprint – with no extra effort –  is to make sure the gifts we give are loved and valued by their recipients. Nearly 53% of adults receive at least one gift they don’t want every year. Here are some ways to reduce wasteful gifting. 

  • Use gift lists. Many online platforms allow recipients to build their own wish lists, meaning you already know the gift is desired when you purchase such items.
  • Embrace regifting or consider shopping for pre-loved items in thrift stores.
  • When buying battery-powered gifts, include rechargeable batteries and the charging unit as additional presents.
  • Swap out traditional gifts for sustainable options, e.g., experiences or homemade foods.
  • Give gifts that encourage a more sustainable lifestyle, such as reusable bags.

Green Decorations

Christmas Trees – Real isn’t always better than artificial when it comes to Christmas trees. It’s important to think about where your tree comes from and where it goes when you’re finished with it. 

  • Unless you plan to use an artificial tree for 10-20 years, a real tree is more sustainable than a fake one.
  • Some communities give you the option of renting a live tree (roots still attached) which is later planted outside.
  • Check out recycling options in your community. In Indianapolis, where the Global Center is located, the service is provided by the city council.

Ornaments – What you use to decorate your tree (and your home) can also be sustainable. 

  • Switch out traditional bulbs with LEDs whenever possible. Incandescent bulbs turn less than 10% of their electricity into light, the rest is lost as heat. LEDs are up to 90% more efficient.
  • Make your own ornaments from sustainable, child-safe materials. Not only are they better for the environment, but the activity of making them is fun for the whole family.

Festive Food

Food Waste – Big holiday meals have the potential to create a lot of food waste, but there are ways to keep your meal from ending up in the trash without sacrificing the joy of sharing food as a family. 

  • Make a plan for how you will use leftovers. This may involve buying some extra ingredients that will be used after the big day. For example, bread and condiments will be needed to turn your leftover turkey slices into sandwiches. Here are some recipes focused on using holiday leftovers.
  • Make room for leftovers in your fridge, freezer and pantry. You should freeze anything you are unlike to eat within three days. Here’s a guide for storing leftovers.
  • Pipes clogged with fat cause problems with water filtration and can contribute to ocean and river pollution. Remember to collect fats from cooking by pouring them into tin cans that you dispose of in the trash. This will help keep our waterways clean and protect your plumbing at the same time.
  • Consider replacing some meat dishes with tasty alternatives.

Published December 1, 2022

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