We Can Start New Holiday Traditions and New Resolutions That Are Easier on the Planet

November 29, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

This is a special time of year. For many, a big part of it is giving gifts and making holiday preparations – just a really joyful time of the year. We (sometimes!) get some down time from work, attend parties and events, get a chance to spend extra time with family and friends, and enjoy the anticipation of giving and receiving gifts.


What’s also the case, and what we sometimes talk less about at this time of the year is that the holidays have an enormous environmental impact in terms of water use, greenhouse gases, and land use caused by the production and later disposal of some of our favorite holiday treats and staples.


We often do we what we do during the holidays because of family traditions and keeping special memories. Family traditions and celebrations are very special and have great meaning. While still respecting and cherishing our holiday traditions, we can start new holiday traditions that also give our planet much needed relief, directly address the dire climate change scenario (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-climate-report-2040.html) we now face, and help protect resources for the benefit of those who come after us.


The statistics on how we humans impact the planet’s resources during the holidays is astonishing. A few examples: (sources: http://ecocycle.org/holidayguide; https://www.neefusa.org/holiday-waste)

  • Approximately 1.5 billion cards are sent over the holiday season in the U.S., which requires 300,000 new trees to be harvested per year. 
  • About 40% of all battery sales in the U.S. occur during the holiday season.
  • Holiday lights in the U.S. use enough electricity to run more than 173,000 homes for a year. 
  • Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the amount of trash produced in the United States increases by an estimated 25%— about one million extra tons of garbage each week. Annually, Americans discard an estimated:
    • 38,000 miles of ribbon, or enough to wrap around the planet (with some left for a bow);
    • $11 billion worth of packing material;
    • 15 million used Christmas trees.


The good news is we can always start new holiday traditions. There are lots of easy, affordable, and creative things we can do to reduce waste and make our impact a little less over the holidays. I’ve shared a few below...and if you’re already doing these things – Thank you for making a difference! At the end of this post, I provide a few web sources that have much more on planet-healthy ways to ring in the holidays.

  • If we each sent just one less holiday card, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
  • If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
  • If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • Instead of wrapping paper, try using colorful pages torn from magazines to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the comics for larger boxes.
  • Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes. Hint: all those Amazon shipping boxes can be used for your gifts, no need to buy and use more boxes!
  • Instead of buying new gift tags, cut off the front of any holiday cards you received in the previous year and use them as gift tags. 
  • If you use a live tree for Christmas set it aside for recycling when the holiday is over. Many areas collect trees in the first few weeks after Christmas to be mulched and used for water conservation and weed control.


One of my favorite ideas is to give a donation in another’s name to a charitable or non-profit organization. For example, supporting wildlife rehabilitators is important to me. I might make a donation in a family member or friend’s name to any number of wildlife rehabilitation organizations to help support the lifesaving work and public education they perform. Visit the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (https://www.nwrawildlife.org/) to locate a wildlife rehabilitator near you. You can also visit Charity Navigator on the web (https://www.charitynavigator.org/) to find charitable organizations, including those in your local area. The web also provides other resources to locate non-profits and charities and provides resources on smart giving (very important).


Find more ideas and information at:

32 Homemade Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations That Look Stunning: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/32-homemade-eco-friendly-christmas-decorations-that-look-stunning/





Snow BirdSnow BirdBeautiful red cardinal for a stunning holiday card selection.




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