The holidays are upon us – Christmas trees have gone up, lights are lining city centres and Christmas carols are filling shops all over the UK. One thing that is not often considered during the holiday season is the environment and the impact of various activities on the environment.
Environmental Impact of the Holidays
The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones – friends and family from all over the country, and in some instances, the world – as well as making numerous trips to the shops for gifts, food and drink. Holiday travel requires the use of cars, trains and various other forms of transportation. This increased amount of travel contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and increases our carbon footprint.
Another significant environmental impact the holiday season has on the environment is the increased waste as a result of giving and receiving gifts, increased consumption of food and drink, and seasonal decorations. A few examples are wrapping paper, gift bags, batteries, cards, leftover food, glass, plastic, Christmas trees and old and/or broken decorations.
Table 1 references January rubbish and recycling collections to detail the average amount of household waste generated over the Christmas season.
What can you do to reduce your environmental impact this holiday season?
A few steps that you can take to reduce your environmental impact this holiday season include:
- Use brown recyclable paper to wrap presents;
- Collect gift bags to be re-purposed for the next holiday season;
- Send out electronic holiday cards or choose cards that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC);
- If you prefer real trees over fake trees, find a tree rental scheme such as the one hosted by the Heeley City Farm or buy a tree with roots so that it can be replanted;
- If you prefer fake trees over real trees, use them for as long as possible and if you have to buy a new one, browse your local charity shops and/or online second-hand retailers before buying one new from the store;
- Organise group shopping trips with family and/or friends to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions;
- Consider eliminating meat from some of the meals shared over the holiday season;
- Lastly, consider setting a budget with family and friends in order to cut down the amount of unwanted or excess gifts.
Friends of the Earth ’21 Eco-friendly Christmas Tips’ is a great resource for other ideas on how to reduce your environmental impact during the holidays. It also includes great sustainable gift ideas for family and friends!
Do you have plans you have in place to reduce your environmental impact this holiday season?