Image of a present wrapped in cloth

How To Be More Sustainable This Holiday Season

J. O’Brien Dec 01, 2021

There’s a lot to love about the holidays, from sharing traditions with your family to spending time with your friends. But if you care about the environment, the holidays might feel a bit bittersweet. 

Celebrations with loved ones can be so meaningful and joyful, but there’s often a lot of consumption that goes into this—all of which can have a negative impact on the environment. Just think of all the wrapping paper that’s quickly discarded, or the leftovers that end up in the trash.

Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do, both big and small, that will let you celebrate the holidays more sustainably without having to cancel your plans or a much loved tradition. While there are plenty of sustainable things we can do in our everyday lives—not just for the holidays, read on for four ways to be more eco-friendly this festive season. 

Rethink How You Travel

There’s a good chance you’re planning to take a plane so that you can gather this holiday season. However, air travel is one of the least eco-friendly options out there. Trains have a significantly lower impact on the environment, so it’s worth exploring if you can travel by rail instead. 

If you absolutely have to travel by plane, be sure to offset the carbon emissions from your flight. A number of airlines will let you do so when you purchase a ticket, but if you don’t have the option, you can use a service like myclimate to calculate and compensate for your flights’ carbon emissions.

Wrap Presents Sustainably

Most wrapping paper can’t be recycled because it’s coated in glitter, foil, and microplastics. You could opt to use a recyclable paper instead. Or, go an even more sustainable route. Furoshiki is the traditional Japanese art of using wrapping clothes instead of paper. You can also use everyday items like a thrifted scarf, bandana, or tea towel to wrap a present, then make the wrapping part of the gift.

Giving a gift that’s particularly tough to wrap? You could use a Bar Bag to hide the present in, or, if the object is small and cylindrical, a Kitsack

Choose Eco-Friendly Gifts

When shopping for presents, don’t choose items that are single-use or readily disposable. Instead, look for gifts that are made to last using either recycled or surplus materials, like the Ski N Hike backpack. Vintage and antique stores are another great option. If you can, shop locally, and avoid shipping to reduce the toll your gift takes on the environment. You might also consider giving experiences—like a subscription to Netflix or a walking tour, or making presents yourself.

You could also forgo gifting altogether and make donations to your favorite charities instead.

What are you doing to be more sustainable this holiday season? Let us know by tagging us on social media with #LifeUnzipped.

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