How to have a Mindful and Merry Holiday Season
Thanksgiving celebrations are over and now it’s time to start putting up decorations and planning presents. If you’re looking to be more environmentally conscious this holiday season, use these tips and tricks.
Starting off with the biggest decoration of them all…the tree! A lot of people debate over whether a fake tree is more sustainable than a real one and it mainly depends on where the tree ends up. In an independent study, researchers found that an artificial tree would need to be reused for over 20 years to be more sustainable over purchasing a real tree each year. If you get a real tree, the best thing to do is to compost the tree at the end of its life. Orange County residents can bring their Christmas trees to either Eubanks Rd. or Walnut Grove Church Rd. Waste and Recycling Centers or the disposal facility to be composted with other yard waste. Those living in single family homes within Town limits of Carrboro, Chapel Hill or Hillsborough may recycle their Christmas trees with other yard waste, following their Town’s instructions and collection schedules. All ornaments, lights, garlands and bases must be removed from the tree. If you don’t have an option to compost your tree, consider getting a used artificial one online or at a thrift store.
For other decorations around the home, try making your own and using what you have! Things such as colorful leaves from fallen trees, cinnamon sticks, popcorn strands and paper snowflakes make for great festive decorations. One of my favorite decorations is an oven dried citrus fruit garland using lemons, oranges and blood-oranges.
For some, gift-giving and receiving is the best part of the holidays. Shopping second-hand is more sustainable and, with thrifting becoming increasingly popular, it may be prudent to begin looking for gifts early this year to find all the goodies and gems that thrift stores have to offer. Aside from thrifting gifts, personal hand-crafted gifts can be more meaningful than ones bought from a store (plus, it might save you some money too). If you don’t have a special craft, think about re-gifting which may seem wrong but if you gift the item to someone that would put it to better use, then it’s extending the life of the product! Beyond physical gifts, replacing gift giving with another tradition such as taking a hike together, donating in someone’s honor, or doing something else both parties would enjoy can be a great option.
When it comes to wrapping gifts, try to avoid traditional gift wrapping paper since they typically include metallic or plastic finishes that can NOT be recycled. Opt instead for something that can be reused or recycled afterwards. Alternative gift wrapping paper can be brown paper bags, old newspaper, especially the comic pages, and magazine pages. If you’re set on using gift wrap, check your local thrift store for rolls others may have donated or buy recyclable wrapping paper. You can also use old fabric and t-shirts to wrap gifts. Decorating gifts with leaves and flowers or old holiday cards adds a special festive touch. If you receive gifts in traditional gift wrapping paper or gift bags, keep them to reuse next year!