With the holiday season comes a lot of guests, food, and gifts. Remember that celebrating does not mean needing to waste copious amounts of food and producing excess energy! Use some of our tips to ensure that your holiday celebrations positively impact the environment.

1. Use a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one.

Using a real Christmas tree has shown to be more sustainable for the environment. Artificial trees are typically made with polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which is listed as a carcinogen. Additionally, it is the manufacture of a fake plastic tree, from oil, that creates most of its carbon footprint. Fake trees are also often shipped very long distances before arriving in the shop and then your home. Real Christmas trees are grown very sustainably and efficiently on Christmas tree farms, and recycling and composting your real tree after use is very easy to do. You can also leave your real tree in woods or ponds to create a wildlife habitat!

2. Use recyclable wrapping paper or alternative sustainable gift wrap options.

Before recycling wrapping paper, be sure to remove any decorations such as ribbons or bows as these cannot be recycled. Simple wrapping paper can be recycled but foil or glitter-decorated paper cannot and needs to go in the waste. Reusable gift wrap is also an idea, such as cloth or reusable gift bags!

3. Use LED holiday lights.

If you are buying new holiday lights, consider using ones with LED bulbs, as they use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they also last 25 times as long. Another benefit is that they do not get hot to the touch so are safer too.

4. Buy local food for holiday meals.

When serving guests, remember that where your food comes from makes a huge difference in terms of environmental impact. Food from major supermarkets travel over 1,000 miles to reach your table! Many towns host indoor farmers markets throughout the winter, allowing for local and seasonal food year round. Buying local, seasonal food supports local farmers markets and reduces your carbon footprint. It will also likely be more fresh and delicious!

5. Give an experiential, non-material gift.

Sometimes it is more fun to give people “experiential” gifts rather than objects. This will also save on waste as people will not just be accumulating objects in their home that could end up in a landfill. Create creative coupons for your friends and family or give them tickets to their favorite band or sports team. The gift goes beyond the experience too—it also includes memories for years to come!

6. Don’t buy a brand new outfit for each holiday party. 

Textile waste diversion is an important issue because it is growing into a major component of our landfills. Textile and material waste make up for 9.5% of municipal solid waste generated in America every year. Water, energy, and other resources are also used to produce textiles. Instead of buying new clothes for the holiday parties you’ll attend, consider going to thrift stores to buy reused clothing materials or host a clothing swap with friends. Think about donating clothes too if you have extra you do not need.

Check out our Mass Appeal segment about ways to stay green for the holidays!