We hope you were inspired by the summer environmental tips we shared a few months ago for the beach, camping, and more. A recent piece from Slate reminded us that even late in the fight for environmental sustainability, personal choices still matter. By making changes in our own lives, we help create a culture of personal investment and systemic change.
With that in mind, for those who celebrate Christmas, here are a few of the ways our family tries to reduce our environmental impact at this time of year. If you've got others, we'd love to hear them!
Gifts and gift wrap
Shop locally for your gifts. This helps reduce the carbon load created by shipping, and supports your local economy, including small businesses like us!
Paper gift bags can be reused several times, and cloth bags have an even longer life.
Make your own gift wrap! We like to to use old maps, magazines, or book dust covers. Craft paper or paper shopping bags work great too. You can decorate them with stamps or drawings, or use them just as they are.
If you buy commercial gift wrap, look for one made from recycled materials. Avoid metallic papers as they can't be recycled.
If you put up a live tree, purchase one that is locally grown. We visit the Francisco Farms out of Staunton, VA at their Midlothian tree stand every year. Or look for a farm where you can cut your own!
Choose lighting for your home and tree with LED lightbulbs. They use less energy and have reduced fire risk over old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.
Once you're ready to take the tree down, have it recycled into mulch. Many municipalities offer this service. Keep an eye out for information starting in late November.
When running those endless errands, plan your trip from your farthest stop on your list to the closest. This makes your drive more efficient and reduces your carbon load.
At parties or shared meals, use reusable dishes if possible. Replace single use plastic with biodegradable paper plates and napkins. Wash plastic cutlery so it can be used again.
Back at home
Now that all the leaves are coming down, don’t bag them! Shred them with the lawnmower or rake them up and use them as mulch to help winterize your flower and garden beds and provide habitats for beneficial insects and other animals. Add some to your compost too!
Keep your thermostat turned down as low as you find comfortable to reduce the heavy load heating puts on our energy grid. Much of our energy is still coal-based, so this also helps reduce fossil fuel pollution.
And of course, whatever holiday you celebrate, we wish you the very best, loveliest celebration as we close out the darkest part of the year and welcome the light of the new year.
With warmest wishes,
Johannah + Kyle