Some Simple Steps For A Sustainable Christmas & New Year

Learn how you can minimize the environmental impact of holiday celebrations this new year

The Meaning of Sustainability

Sustainability is the ability of the environment and human beings to harmoniously co-exist around three pillars: the economy, society  and the environment. It encourages individuals and companies alike to consider their choices and make decisions around these three pillars; the impact of which should be framed in terms of decades instead of the next quarter.

Never before has the need for a sustainable Christmas and New Year been more vital.

Listed below, are common-sense ways of celebrating the upcoming holidays while reducing your environmental impact:

Real Christmas Trees: Better for the Holidays, Best for the Environment

Christmas is around the corner. If you’re about to shop for trees, you’re probably pondering over whether to get a fake tree or a real Christmas tree. A study conducted by the American Christmas Tree Association found that nearly 75 million U.S. homes prefer purchasing fake Xmas trees. Although this staggering figure might convince you to buy a plastic tree, here’s why it’s worthwhile to have a real tree:

1. Fresh Trees are a Renewable Resource

Live Xmas trees are raised on farms. To ensure there is a constant supply, farmers plant up to 3 seedlings for every Christmas tree that is cut. Plastic trees are usually manufactured in China, using petroleum-based plastics, i.e. they cause pollution.

2. Fresh Trees are Recyclable

Real Xmas trees are 100% biodegradable. After you’re done with your tree, there are many places that offer recycling services. Most will convert them into mulch, to be used in landscaping and gardening projects. You can also chop it up and use it as firewood. Fake trees are used up to 5 times after which they’re sent to the landfill, where they never decompose!

3. Fresh Trees Preserve Green Areas

Most real Xmas trees are grown in soil that doesn’t support agricultural crops. When such spaces are used to grow Christmas trees, it enhances these spaces, not to mention has a beneficial environmental impact.

4. Promotes the feeling of Xmas

Live trees look and feel like Christmas, adding to that ‘holiday’ feeling. The branches of the tree gradually come into their normal shape over the duration of the season. In addition, they don’t require any assembly.

Practice Circular Living with Sustainable Gifting Ideas

You’re looking for the perfect gift for your grandma, your mother or may be even your cat - but you probably didn’t know that most of these gifts will contribute to unnecessary waste. Did you know we throw nearly 25% more trash during the holidays than at any other time in the year? That’s a whole lot of trash! When picking the perfect gift this season, incorporate the idea of sustainability: one specific way in which your gift will benefit the environment.

Here are some ingenious, environmentally-friendly gifting ideas:

1. Organic Coffee

Apart from combating winter chills, a fair trade, organically grown coffee makes a wonderful gift. From the product to the packaging, green consumable gifts are good for the taste buds and the environment!

2. Woollen Wear

Knitted woollen wear makes the perfect Christmas, especially if the wool is sourced from family-farmed sheep. Whether it’s a sweater, hat, gloves, mitts or a scarf, woollen wear is great way to stay comfortable in the winter.

3. Sustainable Loungewear

Do you love relaxing in sweatpants or a sweatshirt? Consider sustainable loungewear made from organic cotton. Not only is cozy and warm, but very soft too!

4. Holiday Scented Candles

Everyone loves candles! They add a beautiful scent and warm glow in the space where they’re placed. Think green this holiday season and opt for soy candles or ones made from bees wax over paraffin wax candles.

5. Cork Wallet

These smart gifts are made from regenerative and eco-friendly cork sources. Wallets make sensible gifts and cork wallets come in many colors and styles, perfect to suit anyone’s needs.

Reduce Waste, Use Alternative Gift Wrapping

Apart from the gifts, gift wrapping contributes to a lot of trash, especially during the holiday season. In keeping with the sustainability theme this Christmas, here are unique gift wrapping ideas that innovative, memorable and biodegradable, while some are even reusable:

1. Cloth Gift Bags

If you’ve got curtains, fabric napkins and even leftover cotton scraps, why not stitch it up into a festive gift bag. Add some Christmas colors and themes and you’ve got a cloth gift bag that will definitely win hearts. This recycled cloth bag is the perfect wrapping accessory for consumable gifts like gourmet jams and cheeses, tea and coffee, etc.

2. Music Sheet Wrapping Paper or Bag

Is the recipient a music lover? Music sheet paper or bag will make a stunning presentation. Simply take sheet music and glue the end together to make a continuous roll of paper and then use it to wrap your gifts. Or you can shape it like a small gift bag and attach some twine or string at the top.

3. Stamped Paper

Do you have tons of junk mail and old printer paper in your recycling bin? Simply take a stamp with any design you wish, flip the printer or junk mail paper and make several stamp impressions. Voila, you’ve got stylish wrapping paper. Be extra creative and choose a stamp with a Christmas or New Year theme.

4. Grocery Bag Wrapping

Most big box grocery stores have adopted sustainability measures in their business practices. This is most noticeable in their grocery bags which are usually made from brown, recycled paper. This holiday season, you can use this ordinary bag and with some trimming, cutting, folding and taping, you can transform it into a beautiful gift bag.

5. Vintage Scarf Wrapping

Want a stylish way of wrapping your gifts? Grab some vintage scarves from your local vintage clothing shop. Practice the Furoshiki style of gift wrapping and wrap away all your gifts using these scarves. You’ll get lots of points for presentation and resourcefulness, not to mention praises for your environmental efforts.

6. Newspaper Wrapping or Gift Bag

Newspapers have a vintage look which is why they make perfect gift wrapping material. Simply take a few sheets of newspaper, some glue, a piece of cord and cardstock and transform it into a handy gift bag. You can also wrap your gift with the newspaper and attach some leaves or red ribbon in the centre.

7. Baskets

This is an evergreen gift wrapping solution. Choose baskets made from recycled wood to continue with the circular living theme. Baskets made from sea grass or wickers are not only stunning but can be easily re-used. It’s also a beautiful way to share gifts during the holidays.

8. Tins and Jars

If you love making jams, jellies, pickles and preserves, tins and jars make the perfect gift wrapping solution. Take a mason jar and add some personal touches like a Christmas or New Year message, a photograph or even a decorative bow. After your delicious treat is consumed, the jar will be easily recycled for another purpose.

This Christmas and New Year, adopt the sustainability spirit. Celebrate the holidays with real Xmas trees, reusable gifts and eco-safe wrapping solutions.