5 Ways To Lower Your Family’s Holiday ‘Eco Footprint’
At the end of the year, many families are busy celebrating the holidays. But that joyous feasting and fellowship—while truly wonderful and more appreciated than ever—comes with a pretty heavy ecological price tag.
No need to worry though! The following five tips can help you lower your family’s holiday footprint in fun and easy ways. So, you can spend more time with the people you love while reducing the emissions you make.
1. Upcycle Old Shopping Bags
If you aren’t already using reusable shopping bags, the holidays are a great time to start. However, there are times when everyone forgets them… or you get big paper bags from ordering supper in one night when you were just too exhausted to cook.
But, those bags are perfect to reuse for gift-giving, once you’ve upcycled them! Paints, biodegradable glitter, or even leaves and other natural decorations are perfect. Get the kids involved and their drawings and artistic endeavours will add charm and a personal touch.
2. Vegan Substitutions
Substituting vegan options for traditional dishes is a great way to lower your holiday footprint. Food accounts for up to 30 percent of a household’s carbon emissions, and meats and dairy have the highest footprints.
Try using chopped mushrooms instead of sausage in your favourite stuffing recipe. Or, try a few vegan recipes as replacements to some of the regular dishes you serve. You might be surprised at how much your family and friends will love them… and create a new ‘favourite.’
3. Skip the Cookie-Cutter Kits and Go Natural
One of the things many families do around the holidays is decorating a gingerbread house. And while this fun family activity is great for spending quality time together, you can ditch the cookie-cutter kits and get creative, and lower your footprint in the process.
These kits represent a host of carbon emissions, thanks to the energy used for processing and packaging.
But there are eco-friendly alternatives that don’t require a lot of baking and misery when the gingerbread breaks. Try using pretzel sticks to make a ‘log cabin,’ or grab a box of graham crackers to use for the structure. The advantage of this method is that the results will be delicious!
4. Charming (Bountiful) Name Tags
You can reduce your paper consumption (and consequently the methane that is generated by the garbage in landfills) by using seed paper for gift tags. Not only will these tags look charming and natural, once used, but they can also be tossed out anywhere and will sprout some lovely blooms this spring.
5. Plant Your Tree (Or Plant More Than One!)
Of course, it’s not possible to erase your holiday carbon footprint completely without some extra ‘carbon conversion’ help. Trees are nature’s carbon converting technology, and when done correctly, tree planting carbon offsets actually erase the emissions generated by a specific task.
However, before you do the hard work of planting trees or pay for tree carbon offsets, make sure that you understand the emissions you are generating. You can do that with the use of an eco footprint calculator.
Next, it’s important to understand that for tree planting to successfully remove carbon from the atmosphere, it needs to exist for the long haul. Unfortunately, many afforestation projects use non-native tree species and then harvest those trees in 20-40 years. That sort of carbon offset really doesn’t help the planet.
Effective programs are defined by those that actually replace native tree species in their proper habitat, and which encourage spontaneous regrowth. So, it’s important to do your research before getting started.
Of course, you can also purchase plantable Christmas trees, which will continue to be a blessing on the environment for decades to come.
This year, make your holiday more eco-friendly by trying some easy ways to lower your family’s footprint. That’s a gift the planet will thank you for!