The holidays are often synonymous with over-abundance: More gifts, more parties, more food, more spending. And while it’s nice to splurge and enjoy yourself, the essence of more can also mean more damage to your wallet and the environment. Instead of doing more this year, do things smarter: Smarter spending, smarter decorating, smarter gift giving.
So how do you start acting smart? By going green. Here are nine ways you can make green the most important color of the season.
- Use Eco-Friendly Lights
During the holiday season, lights are bountiful on everything from trees to buildings to telephone poles. But what bulb is shining bright? According to energy.gov, incandescent lightbulbs are often considered the least energy efficient type of electric lighting. Switching to LED lightbulbs not only uses 80% less energy than incandescent lightbulbs, they last up to 10 times longer. You can now feel merry about being bright.
- Ditch Traditional Wrapping Styles
Wrapping paper is very difficult to recycle because of its dyes and additives, but it’s not doing any good for your wallet either. After you rip open your presents, you trash the paper, literally throwing your money away. Get creative with your gift wrapping: Use a scarf, decorative piece of fabric or a cloth bag. Brown paper bags, glossy magazines and old maps or comics work great too.
- Recharge Your Battery.
If you have little ones at home, you know that 90% of their toys will require batteries that sold separately. Common alkaline batteries are tossed after one use and filled with toxic chemicals that end up polluting our soil and water. By making a one-time investment in rechargeable batteries, you save the green in your wallet and the green in the grass.
- Serve in Style
Pile in the plates and give thanks for your dishwasher. Serving your meals with real dishes and silverware saves bundles of paper and plastic from ending up in the landfill. Mix and match different patterns and sizes to create a unique look. If you’re hosting more people than you have plates to go around, ask your guests to bring their own! Think of it as a potluck they don’t have to cook for.
- Eco-Deck the Halls
Skip the streamers and bring life to your decorations with items you already have. Pine cones, gourds, ornaments and holly branches all make beautiful decorations. Find an old pot or tray to display them in. You can add accents with dried beans, walnuts, leaves or funky rocks.
- Repurpose with Purpose
We all know the holidays are more about giving than receiving. So this year, make your gift a little more personal by re-gifting your own treasures. Your grandmother’s old locket will look brand new with a little buff and shine. If you don’t have anything to part with, try shopping consignment shops. You’ll find like-new items for half the cost. After all, vintage is still all the rage.
- Purchase Smart
If you do decide to go holiday shopping, shop local. Buy from local merchants, boutiques and family-owned businesses, and try to purchase gifts that are fair trade and locally made. You can also support your community by giving tickets to local attractions such as music venues, art performances, sports events and family-owned restaurants.
- Eat Sustainably
Try to find a Farmer’s Market that has moved indoors for the winter and always opt for local and organic products. If you’re stocking up on snacks and drinks, buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
- Lose the Shoes
Kudos for everyone trying to reach their goal of 10,000 steps a day, but all those steps pick up tons of dirt, bacteria and toxins along the way. Reduce your risk to outside germs by stopping them at the door. Not only will you save your health, you’ll also save time from cleaning up all the dirt that gets left behind.