By Emily Griffith, Sustainable Newton Secretary
If you’re reading this, odds are climate and environmental responsibility are important to you. And with public opinion polls showing 75% of Americans are alarmed, concerned, or cautious about climate change, you likely have family and friends on your shopping list who would appreciate a thoughtful gift given with sustainability in mind.
But shopping, wrapping, and getting gifts to loved ones on time is stressful enough! Won’t fretting over environmental impact make that even harder?
It’s actually easier than you may think, and Sustainable Newton is here to break down the terms and offer up some environmentally sound gift ideas for the holidays. Let’s start by identifying some items that contribute to waste and often go ignored.
Ways We Waste
It’s easy to think you’ve thought about everything when it comes to tackling the holidays. You’ve made your list, checked it twice, and now are feeling like you’ve made the nice list. But what sight-unseen waste do you contribute to? For example, if that list wasn’t digital, you may want to read our sustainable holiday solutions.
Wrapping Paper- This one is obvious. We line our gifts with colorful, holiday specific wrapping paper. Although the artwork is festive, it is also often unable to be recycled due to dyes and various chemicals within. According to the Clean Air Partnership, approximately 8,000 tons (or 50,000 trees) of gift wrap ends up in landfills each year! If you want to try environmentally friendly solutions think glass jars, recyclable wrapping solutions like mushroom or bamboo, compostable or chemical-free alternatives, or even a pillowcase will do in a pinch.
Christmas Cards- I’ve struggled with this one myself. Family members often request photos of you or your little one seeing Santa. Never fear, there are solutions here as well. Digital cards are a growing tradition and use no trees. In fact, you can send or allow your family to access an entire gallery of photos, often at no cost.
The Gathering- We all LOVE to get together for the holidays, enjoying the simplicity of everyone under one roof. It is estimated that However, the travel there may be contributing to some unfavorable pollution. Last year’s statistics by AAA indicate that 112.5 million people traveled for the holidays by way of flight, personal vehicles, and railways. To reduce your impact, opt for buses or trains, when possible, especially over a short flight. Or even carpool with other relatives.
The Feast- Food waste and increase in meat products result in higher greenhouse gas emissions. As you plan your dinner this season, consider a vegetarian meal with portions fitting for the number of guests you have. At the very least, try find and eliminate two animal-based dishes in the spirit of reductionism. Bonus Tip: Have guests RSVP by email or text the day before to ensure your guest list and keep your waste at a minimum. Lastly, avoid using ANY single use plastic. Always opt for reusable utensils to promote a sustainable lifestyle. Practice this every day, not just over the holidays.
Doing your part doesn’t mean you have to become an expert overnight. In fact, like all good habits, it takes consistency and repetition. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take immediate steps and start doing your part today, and every day.
Green Gift Ideas
Sustainable Newton has compiled a short list of green gifts that take all the guesswork out for you. Browse the sustainable presents that made our list of holiday favorites for the 2022 holiday season.
You're Doing Great!
Doing your part doesn’t mean you have to become an expert overnight. In fact, like all good habits, it takes consistency and repetition. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take immediate steps and start doing your part today and every day.