The world is changing rapidly and with that, more families across North America are starting to embrace sustainability—even at Christmastime. This is especially true for younger generations. In fact, Statista reported in 2020 that 65% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 55% of 25 to 34-year-olds planned on purchasing sustainable Christmas gifts.
Thankfully, a sustainable Christmas doesn't have to be a boring Christmas. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays with friends and family while being respectful of our planet and future generations.
Whether you make consumable items, shop secondhand and give thrifted gifts, or purchase presents made from recycled materials, choosing sustainable is a great way to go green at Christmas.
If you want to take sustainable gifting to the next level, consider gifting experiences or charitable donations, which 31% of Americans committed to in 2020, according to Harris Poll.
Research has shown that more than half of America's consumers plan to buy less in the 2022 holiday season. Purchasing fewer gifts is a great way to support sustainability, as it means fewer items are produced, shipped, and eventually abandoned and left in landfills throughout the country. As an added benefit, it's a great way to save money during the holidays.
The economic impact of buying local is exceptional. From supporting business owners within your community, which is made up of your friend and neighbors, to reducing the negative effects that shipping has on our environment, buying locally is one of the best ways to support sustainability this holiday season.
If you've received gifts throughout the year that aren't of use to you, consider re-gifting them to someone who'd enjoy them at Christmas. While re-gifting might feel taboo, it's becoming a common way to source gifts without giving in to consumerism. In fact, a poll published by Reliable Plant indicated that 68% of Americans admit to re-gifting.
If you'd rather nix gifting altogether at Christmastime, consider making the holidays a time to spend with family and embrace local experiences. Find somewhere to hike with loved ones, spend time walking through your community and having conversations, build a snowman together, or just watch holiday films and cook a meal together.
If you choose to skip the gifts this year, you won't be alone. In 2021, the Deloitte holiday retail survey indicated that a record-high 11.5% of U.S. households planned not to buy gifts at Christmas. And it's expected that number will continue to increase as inflation does.
While this advice can be given at any time throughout the year to those looking to live more sustainably, it's important to think about it at Christmas time. According to Phys.org, Americans use an additional 6.63 billion kilowatt hours during the holidays simply by lighting their Christmas trees and houses. That's more energy usage than any other country.
At Christmas, you can reduce your energy use by adding fewer lights to your home, using tinsel and garland instead of lights on your tree, and ensuring you turn any extra Christmas lighting off when you're not home or asleep.
The tradition of sending out cards at Christmastime is an old one but it's one that's slowly becoming less popular.
In today's digital world, there are plenty of ways to send holiday greetings to loved ones without the added cost of paper cards and stamps, and without the environmental impact. Instead of mailing cards for the holidays, consider writing a holiday letter or gathering family photos that can be distributed to your loved ones via email.
Real trees seem to be the popular choice among American families and, while many families tout them for their fresh pine scent and holiday feel, others opt for real over fake because of the reduced environmental impact.
Artificial trees, although reusable, create substantial pollution during production and aren't biodegradable, which means they end up in landfills for decades. On the other hand, choose the right live tree and you can leave it potted and either replant it outdoors for use in years to come, or have it picked up by the company to be replanted on a farm.
Wrapping paper waste is a huge problem. According to recent data, Americans spent $12.7 billion on wrapping paper in 2018 alone, nearly all of which ended up in the trash. Instead of contributing to this massive waste problem, consider purchasing reusable gift paper or at the very least, gift bags that can be reused or recycled time and again.
Christmas dinner is a time for indulgence but that doesn't mean it can't be done sustainably. Instead of heading to the grocery store, visit your local farmer's market to purchase locally-grown vegetables and locally-raised turkey.
It's also important to purchase only what you're sure you'll eat. According to Plastic Oceans International, more than four million Christmas dinners are wasted each year. By making sure you don't over-purchase, you can easily become part of the solution.