The environmental cost of holidays is a hot and controversial topic. On the one hand, no one wants to be that person, the one who spoils the traditions. On the other, being eco-friendly is not a part-time job. What is the real cost, and how to improve our eco-consciousness during the most wonderful time of the year?
The Christmas Trees
The environmental cost of holidays is most apparent when it comes to Christmas trees. If you chop down a tree, you are destroying the eco-system. Plastic ones are toxic; shipping them is another issue, but if you do use one, don’t throw it away and buy a new one each year. You can also rent a live tress, which seems like the best option.
Research suggests that the paper waste over the Christmas period is equivalent to 5-12 million liters of biofuel – enough to power a bus to go to the moon 20 times. Talk about being hostile to the environment. The solution is simple: recycle the old ones and make new with dried fruit peel, pine cones, and other eco-friendly materials.
We all spend too much money we don’t often have during the festive season. There is also a huge environmental cost of holidays within the gift of giving. Don’t get sucked into consumerism, buy only things that will last, which are useful. It doesn’t have to be a clothing item. Why not buy your loved one yoga classes or tickets for the concert you know that they will want to see?
According to the Soil Association, “food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their environmental impact.” We want to enjoy nice and fulfilling meals, but most of the time, we end up throwing most of it away. If you can’t get past the meat, try choosing organic and support small-scale farming wherever possible. Buy less, but be more conscious about your choices. Turn the waste into something positive: donate it to the local food bank or soup kitchen.
The environmental cost of holidays is far from being just the Christmas issue. Every major holiday brings more waste and consumerism is making us forget what the holidays are really about. Talk to your family and friends. Focus on what the holidays mean to you because it most certainly goes beyond gifts and stuffing food until you can’t breathe.