Simple, Sustainable Ways to Enjoy the Holidays

Published on December 16, 2019

The holidays are a time for giving, so why not give some love to the planet? While sharing time with your family and friends, set an example and show them how easy and fun it is to be more environmentally conscious. Read on for simple ways to turn "green" from merely a festive holiday color to a state of mind.

Be Conscious When It Comes to Your Christmas Tree

Decorating a Christmas tree is a cherished tradition for many families. So is dragging the tree to the curb for disposal once the holiday season is over. Consider starting a new tradition this year by purchasing a potted tree instead. When the season is over, you can plant it outside in your yard and enjoy it for years to come. Just be sure to choose a potted tree that's indigenous to your region to give it the best chance to thrive. If you can’t have a real Christmas tree, see if anyone is selling a used artificial tree. When decorating your tree, choose ENERGY STAR® LED lights, which are 90% more efficient than traditional lights. 1

Be Waste-Free at Your Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are so much fun, but they also generate a lot of waste. All of the paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic utensils end up in the trash. Instead of adding to the landfill, use this opportunity to break out that china or showcase those plates that have been hidden in your cabinets. If disposable options are necessary, there are many environmentally-friendly and biodegradable options to choose from, including bamboo or other plant-based plates and flatware available online.

Take a Stroll to Enjoy the Neighborhood Lights

Neighborhood Christmas Lights

There is something so cheerful about seeing everyone’s houses decorated and glistening under the stars. Walking around your neighborhood is a great way to see the lights. With hot cocoa in hand (or maybe some steaming Golden Milk) in a reusable coffee cup, you can get bundled up and enjoy a nice winter night out with holiday cheer.

Host A New-To-You Gift Exchange

Instead of buying new gifts, propose a New-To-You Gift Exchange this year. Ask each of your guests to bring something from their home that they're no longer using and have them wrap it in something other than wrapping paper. Each person gets to pick a gift, and throughout the game the gifts can be swapped or taken. The more unique or interesting the item is, the more laughs you'll have.

Travel Green

If you are traveling for the holidays, there are easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Some green packing essentials are a reusable straw, reusable flatware, and a reusable water bottle. And stock your toiletry kit with zero-waste, zero-packaging personal care items such as shampoo and conditioner bars, as well as soap bars and face cleansers.

Give Gifts that Keep on Giving

There are a lot of options for eco-friendly gifts, such as wooden toys for younger children and homemade soaps and lotions for family and friends. Assemble a Go Green Starter Pack for someone who may not currently be as conscious but is willing to give it a shot. Some items to consider adding to this kit could be reusable shopping bags, reusable produce bags, a stainless-steel straw, and bamboo flatware. This is a great way to introduce others to a greener lifestyle.

Wrap Your Gifts with the Earth in Mind

There are lots of creative ways to wrap your gifts instead of using single-use paper. Paper bags that you’ve collected from the grocery store or old newspapers (especially the colorful comics section) are two great options to avoid standard wrapping paper. Another idea is using festive cloth or even old shirts and scarves for wrapping your gifts. Instead of tape, you can use string made out of natural fibers like hemp. For gift tags, you can use the front of old holiday cards that you have saved from previous years. 2

'Tis the Season for Giving Back

Make the most out of the holiday season this year. Set the example for those around you by showing them how easy it can be to enjoy a greener holiday. The earth will thank you.

“The future lies before you, like a field of fallen snow; Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.” – Unknown.


1 Sustainable Holidays. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

2 11 Zero Waste Wrapping Techniques for Holiday Gifts. The Sharing Depot.