Ideally, everyone lives a responsible, sustainable lifestyle that helps reduce unnecessary waste. We all know that this isn’t the case, especially during the holiday season. Excess tape, tissue paper, wrapping paper, too much food, boxes, and more means one thing: excess waste. And while we encourage this time of celebration to mean something special, we also want it to benefit your wallet and the planet.
The holidays can wreak havoc on your wallet, but it’s often your own doing. You get caught up in the festivities, but this often results in excess of everything. Since a common desire is to declutter and eliminate excess in the new year, there’s no reason to accumulate during the holidays. Celebrate the holiday season and ring in the new year with a more modest environmental footprint by checking out these budget- and planet-friendly tips.
Invest In Durable Decorations
Can you go to a dollar store and buy a bunch of decorations under $20? Yes, that is a strategy for many people, but many of those decorations get tossed after the holidays. Although it may seem counterintuitive, you should spend a little more money on holiday decor. When you spend more on higher quality decorations, they’ll last longer and save you money over time. It also delays their inevitable journey to the landfill.
Buy Climate Neutral Gifts
If you can’t or don’t want to buy secondhand gifts, consider gifts that are climate neutral certified. Think of this certification like the certified organic sticker you see on certain foods, only a climate neutral certification ensures that brands offset, plan, and have plans in place to reduce their carbon footprint. There are many brands that are climate neutral; you just have to search for them online.
Consolidate Online Purchases
Online shopping has made holiday gift shopping more convenient than ever. You never have to enter a store and subject your poor ears to those earworm holiday songs. If you are going to purchase gifts online, try to do it in one fell swoop. Amazon, for example, will give you the option to group items together and have them arrive at a later date. That way, you reduce the amount of packages and trucks needed to deliver packages to you. Minimize the excess by shopping online in as few purchases as possible.
Give The Gift Of Experiences
As you get older, you realize that you don’t need or want a lot of stuff. If you do see something you want, you typically buy it for yourself. A lot of other people don’t want to accumulate things either. Instead of buying a mug or hoodie that you know a person doesn’t need, give the gift of experiences. If you want to be budget-friendly, make a coupon book for coffee dates with mom, dinners with grandpa, bowling with the nephew, or babysitting for your niece. Gifts of service, such as mowing the lawn, making a meal from scratch, or running errands, are also great ideas.
Get Creative With Wrapping Gifts
According to an estimate from Earth911, about 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. every year. The shimmer, shine, and fun patterns are short-lived, as people tear the paper to shreds to get to the gift. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable, with about 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper ending up in landfill every year. Gift bags are great to use because you can use them over and over again. For a recyclable option, consider wrapping gifts in old maps or vintage book pages. Save up some brown paper bags that you get at the grocery store and wrap your gifts in them.
Make A Plant-Based Feast
Turkey and ham are the usual suspects at most holiday feasts, but what’s wrong with breaking tradition? Swap out your meaty dishes for plant-based alternatives. According to research from 2021, vegetarian and vegan diets that focused on legumes and whole grains were the least expensive diets around. A 2019 study found that transitioning from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet lowered personal greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Roast some Brussels sprouts or bake a platter of root vegetables. If you live in a warmer climate, get a head of cauliflower and cut it into thick steaks for grilling. You can even roast the entire head of cauliflower and smother it in a lemony tahini sauce!