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The holidays are a special time to connect with your loved ones and show them your gratitude. Many individuals turn to gift-giving to display their appreciation for others. Consumerism can have adverse effects on the environment, limiting the sustainability of the holiday season.
Manufacturing and transporting presents create greenhouse gas emissions, causing climate change. Environmentalists and eco-conscious consumers search for eco-friendly alternatives to harmful traditions. They discovered nine ways to enhance joy and sustainability this winter while shrinking their carbon footprints.
One of the most popular holiday gift items is clothes. The fast fashion industry produces excessive quantities of waste. It takes up to 20,000 liters of freshwater to develop a kilogram of cotton.
By shrinking your list, you can decrease the pollution associated with your gift-giving this winter. Instead of giving presents to each family member, you may assign one individual to each person, limiting the number of gifts. The fewer presents you purchase, the smaller your water carbon footprint will be.
Another source of pollution associated with gift-giving derives from transportation. Traveling from store to store searching for presents contributes to the high emission rate of the transportation sector. It accounts for nearly 7.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
You may decrease atmospheric degradation by re-gifting the unused presents you have at home. Repurposing gifts can effectively reduce transit emissions and municipal solid waste (MSW), preventing them from reaching landfills.
You can also increase the sustainability of your holiday presents by making them at home. If you have elementary-age children, you may be familiar with the helpers’ coupon book. The gift contains “coupons” for physical help.
Individuals can develop a book full of personalized tokens. You may also create a scrapbook for your older family members with sentimental photos from the past. Developing a digital scrapbook is more sustainable because it saves paper, and it allows you to add meaningful home videos.
Another way to decrease pollution and environmental degradation during the holidays is by giving battery-free gifts. Popular children’s toys contain music and physical features requiring electricity. The lithium-ion batteries inside the presents require harmful mining processes.
Toxins can leak out of the mines and pollute local ecosystems, contaminating drinking water sources and decreasing biodiversity. Rather than purchasing the most advanced versions of gifts, opt for those without lithium-ion batteries.
Individuals can also shrink their carbon footprints by decorating trees in their yards during the holidays. A popular family tradition is cutting down a live tree and moving it into a home. The removal of trees causes deforestation and limits Earth’s natural carbon filtration process.
One tree can absorb and filter about 48 pounds of emissions each year, reducing atmospheric degradation. Instead of cutting a live tree, families can decorate the vegetation of their landscape using biodegradable and animal-friendly ornaments.
Holiday lights also produce pollution, using large quantities of fossil-fuel-derived electricity. You can minimize emissions by using light-emitting diode (LED) string lights instead of the incandescent versions. LED bulbs are nearly 75% more energy-efficient, shrinking an individual’s carbon footprint.
They also last 25 times longer than conventional bulbs, reducing MSW. Individuals can place their holiday lights on a timer, triggering them off after a specific time. Limiting the amount of time lights are on reduces energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Society sends billions of holiday cards annually, producing the same number of emissions as 22,000 homes. The products are single-use and often end up in landfills shortly after the holidays. The holiday card industry contributes to deforestation, causing atmospheric pollution.
Many cards are also non-recyclable, especially ones with audio and moving features. Some versions contain mercury, glitter, foil and lamination, polluting landfills at the end of their life cycles. Individuals can make homemade cards or send digital versions to limit waste.
Gift wrapping additional creates MSW during the holidays. Researchers predict that individuals utilize about seven trees-worth of paper annually. You can improve atmospheric conservation and landfill space by recycling your old paper as gift wrap.
Using newspapers to cover presents gives them a funky, vintage feel while improving sustainability levels. Recycling just one day’s worth of the New York Times could save 75,000 trees. You may also save used gift wrap, ribbons and tags for next year, continuing conservation-enhancing trends.
This winter, you may further decrease pollution by composting your trees after the new year. Some individuals send their trees to landfills or burn them to make space in their homes. You produce carbon monoxide, nitrogen-oxygen, and particle pollution when you burn the vegetation.
The emissions from wood-burning cause adverse ecological effects, influencing climate change. Instead of igniting your tree, you can take it to a composting facility where professionals turn it into nutrients for the Earth.
When individuals improve the sustainability of their holiday traditions, they can decrease stress and enhance enjoyment. Minimizing emissions and surface-level waste reduces holiday guilt, helping families focus on what matters most, connection. Making homemade gifts, repurposing materials and shrinking your present lists also improves financial savings, preventing additional stress around the holidays.
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief of Momish Magazine and believes in science, that climate change is real, and is doing her part to keep Mother Earth healthy for the future of her four kids.
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