We know it: falling into the trap of overconsumption is easy when the holidays are rolling around. We want to please our loved ones, show them that we appreciate them, and, too often, the classic way to do so (or at least, the one encouraged by the society we live in) is to give gifts and celebrate wildly.
Let us clarify one thing: it is not necessary to change absolutely everything in our holiday traditions or to fall into absolute frugality if we are to celebrate in a more sustainable way. It is enough to be aware of the alternatives to our habits and to think of our celebrations differently. The 2020 holiday season will be very different anyway, so why not take the opportunity to start new, more eco-friendly traditions? To start your thought process, we've put together this handy little guide to read and to share!
1. Opt for an ecological tree
After years of debate, experts can confirm that the most ecological tree is a natural one, which pollutes significantly less than making a plastic tree that may last a long time but will hardly ever biodegrade. On the other hand, not all conifers are created equal, in terms of eco-responsibility. If you have the chance, go for potted firs, which can then be replanted. Next year, you can decorate it outside and have an authentic festive tree!
2. Eat and drink local
We know that our restaurants and caterers are suffering greatly from the pandemic and have been doing so for months already. Why not encourage them by ordering your holiday menu from them? This will kill two birds (probably turkeys) with one stone: you won’t need to cook and you will be supporting a local business!
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, find out about the alternatives available to you locally. The less food and bottles travel, the less carbon footprint they have. Plus, you might make some exciting new discoveries, who knows?
3. Use eco-friendly decorations
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The most ecological decorations are of course the ones we already own, and what could be more touching than decorating a (natural and organic) tree with ornaments that remind us of precious memories? If you need some new decorations (in case, for example, your cat has shown A LITTLE TOO MUCH INTEREST in the conifer in the living room), you could make this a DIY project. Let your creativity flow and have a relaxing time while designing ornaments for your tree or for the house that will make you proud for years to come!
If you don't have an artistic flair, try encouraging local artisans who make decorations from natural materials, like wood, cardboard, or items found in the wild, like pinecones and dried branches, for example.
4. Choose eco-responsible holiday cards
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Looking for a more personalized option than exchanging your wishes on social media or via email? Turn to traditional handwritten holiday cards! Try to find ones that are locally produced on recycled paper. Did you know about plantable cards? Made with seeded paper, they can then be planted in a pot and watered to turn into flowers or even vegetable plants! The loved ones to whom you give these cards can then transplant their shoots into their garden when spring comes around and think of you every time they lay eyes on them. Cute, right?
5. Offer green and local gifts
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Sometimes, adopting a new lifestyle requires a helping hand…! Why not help your friends and family begin their transition to a more sustainable lifestyle by providing them with practical and useful items? For example, you could visit your local zero waste store and make them a set with essential objects! Or you could gift them books about topics you care about that you've read, enjoyed, but don't plan on keeping. Yes, we believe it is time to normalize re-gifting.
Otherwise, stop at your neighborhood’s shops which have a wide selection of items created by local artisans or businesses. Think about what your loved ones truly like and only buy items they really need. A pottery mug for Marie, who loves good coffee? A calendar designed by a local illustrator for Remi, who is known for being organized? Fairtrade chocolates for Emmanuel, who has a sweet tooth? Everything is possible!
6. Wrap gifts sustainably
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Do you know the Japanese furoshiki? This wrapping technique is very simple and absolutely lovely: it consists of a way of folding and knotting the fabric to cover presents. Thus, the packaging is infinitely reusable, and the result is splendid under the tree! Several tutorials are available online, so if you have fabrics that you no longer use, you will know how to transform them!
Otherwise, there are plenty of recycled papers with pretty prints, or simple, minimalist ways to wrap your gifts. For example, a simple kraft paper bag takes on a festive feel when adorned with string and tiny balsam fir branches. And if you're the type to keep the gift bags and tissue papers from previous holidays, don't be afraid to reuse them!
Whatever reason motivates you to adopt a new lifestyle for the holiday season, remember to go at your own pace, within your budget, and not to put pressure on yourself. After all, sustainable festivities should be a way to simplify your life, not complicate it further.
Happy Holidays, and may life be sweet to you!