THE BLOG

POSTED
How To Celebrate The Holidays More Sustainably
November 20, 2020

The holiday season is truly something that lights me up each year and something I look forward to. A few years ago, I began examining many of the traditions that were on autopilot and started redefining how Aaron and I wanted to celebrate that felt in alignment with us.

Today I’ll share some ideas we’ve adopted for more sustainable holiday celebrations!

While decorating the house, gift giving and making our favorite holiday meals are some of the traditions I look forward to most each year, they also can be extremely wasteful.

Celebrating more consciously and sustainably is important to me – it brings back in the mindfulness intended for this season and releases all of the overconsumption and fluff.

Five ideas for a more eco-friendly, sustainable holiday season: 

BE MINDFUL WITH SEASONAL FOOD & FOOD WASTE

Food waste is an immense problem in our country and something many of us don’t think twice about. About 50% of all produce purchased in the U.S is thrown away… that’s something to chew on.

COMPOST

My first recommendation is to start composting today and keep this going all year round and share this concept with your family. If you’re in a city, consider joining a compost pick-up service or if you have a backyard, it’s super easy to start!

Here’s the countertop bin we use before taking it out to the compost pile.

BUY SEASONAL

Think outside of the box – rather than making the traditional menu… is there something that’s in season locally you could make instead?

I love the challenge of sourcing produce and ingredients that are from a 100-mile radius from where I am.

This reduces the carbon footprint of your meal and usually, the fresher the ingredients are, the more flavorful and delicious the meal will be.

Our CSA (community supported agriculture – also known as a ‘farm share’) is a saving grace for sourcing local food – look into one in your area.

SHOP NAKED

Well, at least buy your produce naked ;)

By this I mean, forget the plastic produce bags and packaged food. Also try to make anything you can from scratch – pie crusts, almond milk / creamer, broth, etc.

For produce, place the loose fruit and vegetables directly in your cart. The cashiers don’t care that they’re not in a bag.

And if you’re worried about germs? Well, think about the journey those fruits or veggies took before getting on that shelf (on trucks, handled by many, etc) – and news flash, they weren’t in bags for that.

Just wash your veggies in an apple cider vinegar wash when you get home!

If you want a barrier for your produce, opt for a plastic-free alternative. Bring reusable cloth bags to transport your items home.

GET CREATIVE WITH EXCESS FOOD

If you are a guest in someone else’s home during the holiday season, this may prove to be more difficult. In this case, get creative and open up a conversation. Make a list of what you actually need to purchase instead of buying excess. If there is any excess, don’t toss it. Use it or donate it.

Any veggie scraps or bones going into the trash? Instead, save and freeze them so you can make a big pot of homemade broth. 

If you don’t like holiday leftovers, I’m concerned about you ;)
But make sure to send them home with someone who does! 

Often times we throw away food out of habit, when we can be getting so much more out of what we have. Think proactively before tossing and see how much more you can do with extra food this season.

DECORATE WITH PERISHABLES

Some of my favorite decorations come from nature – big bushy garlands, door wreaths, Christmas trees.

Lately I’m most inspired by creative people who forage their greenery and other natural elements to decorate their home this time of year.

Pine branches, tall grasses and pinecones can be foraged and used for a beautiful and zero waste alternative to fake greenery.

And once the season is over, you can compost them or toss them back out in the yard so there’s no need excessive storage.

Find some inspiration for holiday decor on my Pinterest page!

WRAP WITH CARE

Growing up, our family went hard on gift wrapping. It was a family affair – my mom and my Uncle in the spotlight – with giant bins of glitter and bows to adorn the gifts.

And while that does bring a smile to my face thinking about it, I am in such a different head space now. I love simply but beautifully wrapped gifts that aren’t wasteful or coated in plastic.

My favorite tip is to save any brown paper filling that comes in online order shipments to wrap (this is free and really pretty!) but you can also use newspapers, old magazine pages, linen cloth and other tags or items you can upcycle. Some years I’ve purchased a stamp to give the paper a pattern.

For string, you can use twine or ribbon that you’ve saved from packages. To add a bit of texture, try adding herbs or foraged greenery. 

Every year I always receive compliments on the way I wrap proving our gifts don’t have to wrapped in glitter and gold to shine. 

SHOP SMALL, SUSTAINABLE & ETHICAL FOR GIFTS

Gift an experience, gift something homemade or shop small / sustainable businesses for a less wasteful, more thoughtful gift this year.

I have a small business holiday gift guide waiting for you if you’re looking for ideas!

Would love to hear any other tips you have for being more mindful and environmentally-conscious during the holidays!

Thanks for reading! I'm a photographer, writer & environmental advocate excited to be sharing regenerative solutions, ideas & concepts for our lives & businesses with you. 

I'M ELANA JADALLAH

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