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10 Ideas for A More Sustainable Holiday Season | Less Waste and More Joy

The holidays are already in full swing, but it isn't too late to manage the clutter and waste with these ideas for a more sustainable holiday season. As we enter the heart of the most festive time of year, there’s a lot to do. From gifting to decorating to cooking and more, the holidays give us plenty of opportunities to practice a more sustainable way of life. With waste increasing drastically during this time of year, it’s more important than ever to mindfully look for ways we can help out our earth.

If you’re wondering how to minimize negative environmental impact while maximizing positive vibes and good cheer, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered a list of ideas and inspiration to help you enjoy a more ecological and less wasteful holiday and Christmas season. Let’s get into it!

Choose a Potted Christmas Tree

How to Care for Your Potted Christmas Tree by House Beautiful

Plastic Christmas trees seem like they are a better choice for the planet than a living tree, but even those are thrown away after an average of 6 years and where do they go? Landfills. Moreover, they’re made from harmful, non-biodegradable plastics, whereas a real tree can be naturally recycled or composted.

Choosing to cut down a live tree year after year isn’t the greatest option either – the amount of waste is enormous. What’s the answer? A potted, living tree that can be planted in your yard, a friend’s yard, or another location altogether once the holidays end. Sure, they’re not as large and grand as the u-cut trees, but their life can be sustained (which in turn helps to sustain us) long after the festivities are over.

Use Reusable Gift Wrap

Set of 4 Tokki Gift Wraps

Americans use enough wrapping paper each year to cover 6,000 football fields. While gift wrap technically can be recycled, it contains so many dyes and ink that the number of usable fibers that can be extracted is grossly outweighed by the amount of sludge and harmful emissions generated during the recycling process. And if the gift wrap is encrusted with glitter? Forget about it.

So, what do we do? Choose sustainable gift wrap options, of course! Obviously, we love eco-friendly gift wrap – we created a whole company around it. Tokki makes reusable gifting easy with our Tokki wraps (no tape or scissors needed!), You can also choose to wrap your gifts in paper you already have lying around (like a newspaper) with the Tokki band that serves as both a digital gift card and ties everything together. Using a Tokki wrap, newspaper, or any reusable material helps to reduce the immense gift wrap waste generated each year in America.

Opt for LED and/or Solar Powered Lights

Twinkle Gold LED String Lights from Crate and Barrel

LED or solar-powered lights use far less electricity in comparison to their standard counterparts. This results in a reduced impact on the planet and a smaller electricity bill. And with solar-powered lights you don’t have to worry about turning them off at the end of the night – they will turn off naturally as they lose their solar charge overnight. These Twinkle Gold LED string lights from Crate and Barrel can also serve as a fun stocking stuffer early in the season. Wrap them in a Tokki wrap for an extra special gifting experience.

Ditch the Junk

Be mindful when choosing your stocking stuffers. Does your loved one really need that little plastic toy, or will it be completely forgotten about within hours? Keep the focus on the gifts that really matter. If you’re looking for some fun little knick-knacks as “add-ons” for gifts, think about making them yourself, or purchasing fair trade, up-cycled items that benefit the planet and local artisans. For some inspiration, check out our Best Baby and Toddler Toys Gift Guide and Personalized Gift Ideas for Kids of Any Age.

Eat Local and Support Local Farmers

Winter Farmers' Market image from VegNews

One of the best ways you can engage in sustainability all year round is to know where your food comes from. If your hometown has a farmer’s market, choose to purchase as much produce, artisanal products such as honey and jam, and even meat and eggs from these vendors. You will have the opportunity to talk with the farmers themselves about their practices, and you’ll learn a lot about the food you’re eating as well.

Plan Meals and Food Quantities for Celebrations

The holiday season equals food, food, and more food. But did you know that Americans waste nearly 40 million tons of food each year, and the national average goes up by 20% during the holidays? Yikes. 

Ensure that your holiday mealtimes are eco-friendly by planning out how much food you really need to make. You can also put any waste you do have to good use by implementing composting in your home.

Use What Mama Nature Gave You

Nature Inspired Holiday Decor from Better Homes & Gardens

Whenever possible, decorate with items straight from nature. Think: holly branches, live wreaths, cinnamon sticks, and fresh-cut flowers and foliage from your own backyard. Not only will these organic materials keep you from investing in more plastic goods, but they will bring the clean and inviting scents and textures of the earth right into your home.

Practice a “Simple is Best” Philosophy

Do you know the houses where it looks like Christmas infiltrated every corner? We’re talking dozens of plastic Santas, angels, carolers, reindeer, and so many twinkly lights you’re certain the house is about to catch fire at any moment. Inside, there’s glitter, garlands, wreaths, banners, and holiday-themed tchotchkes everywhere. Yeah…there’s a better way.

Keep your holiday décor simple and elegant by selecting those pieces that truly speak to you, your family, and the joy of the holiday. Instead of decorating your entire home, perhaps just your mantle and your banister will suffice. Or maybe you love Christmas lights, but you can do without the ceramic Mr. and Mrs. Claus and opulent plastic-and-glitter Christmas fairyland scene. Less is more, and a little bit of holiday decorating makes a big impact when it is done mindfully and tastefully.

Ask for Email Receipts

Many stores now give you the option of email, printed, or both when it comes to your receipt. Choose email only and save paper while also ensuring that all your proofs of purchase are kept in one place. No more hunting for an elusive piece of paper before you can make a return. Now you can have it right on your phone – good for the earth and for your stress levels!

Use E-Cards Whenever Possible

Photo and digital message on your Tokki gift band

Think e-cards don’t have the same personal feel as traditional paper cards? Think again!

Digital messages are a fun and interactive way to tell your loved one you care without wasting paper. Check out our Tokki band to see how you can gift (and re-gift) beautiful messages the eco-friendly way and personalized way with photos and videos.

Keep your holidays merry and bright with Tokki’s sustainable gift wrap options. Our holiday limited-edition, reusable designs are good for the planet and oh-so-stylish. If that weren’t enough, 10% of every Tokki purchase goes toward non-profits that help to protect our planet. Learn more and shop our styles at Happy holidays!

Ideas for a more sustainable holiday season

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