If you’re a conscious consumer like us, then you’re always looking for ways to reduce your impact on the planet and do good with your hard-earned dollar, and the holidays are no exception. The holiday season is one of the most wasteful times of the year. In the US alone, people throw out a million more tonnes of garbage per week including gift wrap and packaging, and use more electricity lighting up their homes with festive lights than some countries use in an entire year.
Here are some of our favorite green holiday tips to help you enjoy a healthy, happy and ethical holiday season!
Green Holiday Tip #1: Use LED Lights
Who doesn’t love decorating their home or Christmas tree with lights? The good news is you don’t have to ditch them altogether, but rather look for LED Christmas lights which are more energy efficient.
Green Holiday Tip #2: Shop with cloth bags!
Maybe you never miss bringing a cloth bag to the grocery bag, but what about when you go gift shopping? Whether you shop at the mall or on main street, you can reduce your waste by skipping the store’s disposable paper or plastic bags and filling your reusable cloth bags with all your holiday goodies.
Eco kids toys from Casa de la Mujer Artesana - available now in our shop!
Green Holiday Tip #3: Go battery-free
Did you know? Almost half of annual battery sales happen during the holidays in the US. That’s a lot of batteries! Look for gifts that are not battery-operated or if it is unavoidable, choose rechargeable batteries instead. Recharging your batteries and reusing them keeps them out of the landfill!
We've got great soft and cuddly eco kids toys in store, no batteries required!
Adorable hand-felted wool dart frogs, just a few of the great eco kids toys and natural alpaca kids clothing we have in stock!
Green Holiday Tip #4: Buy gifts with a story to tell
Giving gifts with meaning is like getting two gifts in one. Whether that’s something hand-made, a gift that simultaneously contributes to a charitable purpose, or something fair trade where you can share the story of where it came from or how it was made, these are truly gifts with heart.
The Quilla Women's Alpaca Poncho, a gorgeous poncho expertly woven by Angela Milo Huallpa from Totora.
Take for example the Quilla Women’s Alpaca Poncho. Quilla means "moon" in Quechua, the indigenous Andean language...it is also the word for "month"! The Quilla women's alpaca poncho is full of pallay, traditional woven symbols, each of which represent something from the weaver's daily life, from lakes and rivers to alpacas and mountains. When woven together in different combinations, these pallay literally tell stories about the textile and its maker!
One of our Master Weavers, Angela Milo Huallpa, from the community of Totora.
The Quilla women's alpaca poncho is woven in the community of Totora by members of the Pallay Awaq weaving association. The Totora group of weavers keep it all in the family, as they are primarily composed of a group of master weaver sisters and their husbands. Angela Milo Huallpa, the leader of the group, was the first person from this group that we connected with. You can read the story of how we first met in our blog!
Green Holiday Tip #5: Alternative Wraps
Almost 40,000 miles – yes, miles! – of ribbon is thrown out every year, enough to wrap up the entire Earth! Instead of using conventional wrapping paper and ribbon to wrap up your gifts, consider an alternative like newspaper (the colour comics section is the best!), old maps and calendars, or fabric, giving a second life to something you might otherwise simply discard. If you like a little DIY project and you’re feeling crafty, you can also break out your paints or pencils and hand-decorate recyclable craft paper.
Green Holiday Tip #6: Stuff your stocking with yummy treats!
Quite possibly my favorite green holiday tip, instead of heading to the dollar store to stock up on cheap trinkets to fill your loved ones’ stockings, why not gift them something yummy to eat instead? Christmas oranges, dried fruit, nuts, or homemade baked goods will fill stockings up in no time…and also fill up tummies on Christmas morning!
Green Holiday Tip #7: Go Eco-chic with your home decor
Deck your halls with boughs of holly - for real! Instead of purchasing reams of plastic to decorate your home with, why not head to the florist - or even your backyard! - to stock up on holly, evergreen branches and pine cones for your holiday table centrepiece. Even nuts, oranges and dried fruit add a festive flair. You can also skip the artificial air freshener and go au naturel with classic holiday scents like pine, cinnamon, and apples. Think holiday cookies baking in the oven, chestnuts roasting over an open fire, hot chocolate or even mulled wine simmering on the stove.
Green Holiday Tip #8: Go local
There’s a reason the traditional Christmas dinner features seasonal stars like rutabaga, carrots and Brussel sprouts! These hardy winter vegetables are usually available locally in northern climates, meaning that they don’t have to travel as far to get to your plate. Consider connecting with a local farm for a farm-raised turkey and visit a winter farmer’s market, if there is one in your area, for your veggies. Save the strawberry shortcake for the summer and instead consider treats like apple crumble and pumpkin pie.
Green Holiday Tip #9: E-cards vs tree-cards
We all know how damaging over-consumption of paper products can be for our forests, so why not skip the traditional snail-mail Christmas cards and send an e-card instead. The David Suzuki Foundation offers animal-themed e-cards that are adorable and seasonal. And the best part – the money you spend on the card supports the Foundation’s environmental conservation programs.
Green Holiday Tip #10: Think outside the box
Not all gifts come from the store! Package up your services or your time – one of the most precious things we have to share! Gift your mom a day off and treat her to a day of pampering. Turn the tables and give your grandma some of your homemade treats – your signature fudge, or World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. A free pass to the museum or a month’s subscription to the gym could be just the ticket for your dad. Thinking outside the box can mean not only a plus for the planet but also a more heartfelt and meaningful gift for your loved ones - and that is the true meaning of Christmas!