With the holiday season in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gifts for your friends and family, festive holiday parties, and a list of realistic resolutions for the new year. Unfortunately, although this is the merriest time of the year, the environmental impact of the holiday season is not so merry.
Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, more than one million tons of additional waste is created every week? With all the paper products, holiday lights, and additional travel, the holiday season can take a toll on the planet. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to have a sustainable holiday and a green new year!
How to be Sustainable During the Holidays
Sustainable Holiday Gifts
Giving your friends and family thoughtful gifts is a great way to show them you care. However, a lot of unnecessary waste is associated with gift-giving.
Every year, approximately 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper are thrown away during the holiday season. You can minimize this impact by switching to reusable gift bags or recyclable wrapping paper.
We also recommend supporting small local businesses and second-hand stores when looking for holiday gifts. This way, you can support the local economy and minimize carbon emissions. If you live near Kaleva, check out the Kaleva Resale Shop for all your holiday gift needs. We have tons of awesome second-hand options!
Sustainable Holiday Decorations
Decorations like sparkly lights make the holiday season look extra magical, but they use a massive energy waste. We recommend finding energy-saving holiday lights which will save energy and money. In addition, we recommend getting creative with your decorations by upcycling things around your house into conversation-staring sustainable holiday decor!
If you are celebrating Christmas, we also recommend looking into a rent-a-tree service. Many Christmas tree farms will let you rent a tree and replant it after the season is over. We can recommend the Michigan Christmas Tree Association to find a tree near you! For more eco-friendly holiday ideas, check out this extensive list.
Going Green for New Years
Ten Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions
Some people go into the New Year with a “New Me” mantra because it seems like the perfect time for a new beginning. The problem is that this usually includes hard-to-reach goals like going to the gym every day or becoming fluent in three new languages.
Here at BARC, we like to choose obtainable, sustainable New Year resolutions that we won’t be forgotten by February. So if you want inspiration to make some eco-friendly new year’s resolutions, we have you covered. Below are ten easy ways to go green for the New Year so you can protect the planet for future generations!
Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Did you know that many grocery stores will give you a discount for bringing your own shopping bags? This new year, start bringing a shopping bag to any store so you won’t be contributing to the one million plastic bags used every minute worldwide. Plus, reusable shopping bags are made to last, so they won’t rip as you transport your precious cargo.
Conserving water is a great way to minimize your environmental impact. For example, we recommend reducing your shower time, turning the faucet off while brushing, adding an old bottle into your toilet tank, and being mindful when doing laundry or dishes.
Donate Your Stuff
Instead of throwing away things you no longer want or need, donating is a great way to ensure they won’t end up in a landfill. We recommend asking if any of your friends or family could use it or dropping your things at a local thrift store. Since it’s the holiday season, you can also give some things as gifts!
Shop Second Hand
Shopping secondhand has a positive environmental impact by reducing carbon emissions while saving precious resources like water and energy. If you live near Kaleva, we recommend checking out the excellent selection of secondhand items over at the Kaleva Resale Store. We even have a monthly sale so you can save money and the planet!
Eliminate Single-Use Plastic
Single-use plastic ends up as deadly waste in landfills or the ocean. In addition, animals like birds and fish eat thousands of tons of plastic annually, which is terrible for their health. Scientists believe that by 2050, more plastic will be in our oceans than fish. By vowing not to use single-use plastic in 2023, you can help reduce this number by switching to sustainable alternatives and keep our oceans healthy!
Supporting small local businesses is a great way to reduce travel-related carbon emissions and air pollution. Shopping locally will boost the local economy, making it a win-win.
Eat Less Meat
It’s common knowledge that a vegetarian diet is better for the environment than the alternative. This is because a vegetarian diet produces 2.5 times fewer carbon emissions than a meat diet. However, cutting out meat entirely is a challenging new years resolution, so we recommend incorporating Meatless Mondays or just trying to minimize your meat intake in general.
Curate a Capsule Wardrobe
If you are not familiar with the term capsule wardrobe, it is a limited selection of interchangeable complimentary clothing pieces. This makes it easy to look stylish without contributing to the 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year that fast fashion produces. All you have to do is find well-made vintage, secondhand, or sustainable clothing items that will last!
Use Your Voice
Using your voice is a great way to get other people involved in the fight against climate change. Start small by sharing helpful articles (like this one) on social media to show your friends and family what they can do to make a difference!
Volunteer with BARC
Volunteering with BARC is a great way to get involved in 2023. We are always looking for volunteers to help us further our mission to inspire an eco-conscious culture here in Northern Michigan.
To volunteer with BARC, please fill out our volunteer application and start your journey of going green!