We all have that friend or relative who gives us the side-eye when we pull out the plastic cutlery or makes some passive aggressive comment about how they never use plastic at home when we start handing out the plastic plates. We know they mean well, and we totally respect their devotion to the environment, but we don’t love the shade they throw when we are just trying host a nice party (and not do a million dishes).
But as climate change becomes an increasingly alarming issue (like, we-may-not-have-that-many-holiday-seasons-left kind of alarming), we should probably start making some changes to how we celebrate to help heal and preserve our beautiful planet.
Here at Liveli-hood, we love to throw a stylish party so in keeping with that goal, we have come up with a few suggestions for how you can green your holiday without sacrificing style.
Buy eco-friendly party-ware
No one loves doing dishes after a party of 10, 20, or maybe more people (unless you’re trying to avoid your painfully awkward cousin or your brother’s annoying new girlfriend). That’s why the holidays are a tempting time to stock up on disposable plates, cups, and flatware so you aren’t stuck at the sink while everyone else is getting toasted on the Nog. But before you grab those plastic or paper plates at Target, check to see if they can be recycled, or better yet, composted. We have really enjoyed using palm leaf and bamboo plates at our recent holiday gatherings. They are surprisingly stylish, affordable, and they biodegrade in mere months. So, unlike those pretty plastic plates at your local party store, these plates won’t be taking up space on the planet by the next holiday season. Check out some of our favorite options here and here.
Use recyclable wrapping
We are suckers for pretty wrapping paper. But like a lot of the things we love, traditional wrapping paper is bad for the environment. If it’s glossy, shiny, metallic, or glittery, it won’t recycle. However, don’t despair because we have found wrapping paper that not only recycles, but is also beautiful! Check out Wrappily, an eco-friendly gift wrap company that makes super stylish wrapping paper that recycles! This isn’t an advertisement – we just really love what they are doing and plan to wrap all of our holiday gifts with their cute gift wrap.
Here are a few other eco-friendly gift wrap tips to consider:
- Try to use natural ribbons made with cotton, hemp, raffia, twine or paper. The ribbon made with synthetic fibers and the plastic bows never really go away even after you throw them out.
- Use plain brown kraft paper as your go-to gift wrap. It works for any occasion, not just the holidays, so it’s more cost effective too. You can dress it up with pretty ribbons (see note above) or get creative with a metallic marker if you are really artsy.
- Gift bags are a better option than traditional wrapping paper, even though they are likely not recyclable either, because you can reuse them from year to year.
Don’t buy plastic gift cards
While they certainly make for a nice presentation, those little plastic gift cards are a gift that keeps on giving as far as environmental waste goes. They will essentially be on earth FOREVER, even if the thing your loved one buys with it only lasts a couple of years. Opt instead for emailed or home-printed gift certificates. Or, you could just give cash, the universally-loved gift. And if you want to be a little extra, Pinterest has 102+ ways you can fold that cash into an origami Christmas tree or other festive sh!t if you really want to make your recipient work for it.
Real is better than fake
If you think your plastic Christmas tree is the better choice for the environment because its reusable, think again. According to the Rainforest Alliance, you would have to use the same fake tree for TWENTY YEARS before it’s greener than buying a real tree each year. Why is that, you might ask? Because trees are good for the planet – even if we ultimately cut them down just to die a slow death in our living rooms. If you want to get bonus points, you can seek out an organic and low-pesticide tree from a local farmer. You should also check with your city or county to find out how you can recycle your real Christmas tree at the end of the season, instead of tossing it in the trash (which is not good).
Ditch the gag gifts
We all love the look on our coworker’s face when they open our hilarious gag gift at the office white elephant party but is that momentary hilarity worth the environmental price we will all pay when that gift inevitably ends up in the landfill? We agree that the liter-size wine glass for Cheryl and the Yodeling Pickle (yes, that’s a real effing thing) for Craig will make you the funniest gift-giver at the party but nobody needs that sh!t. Least of all, your local landfill. Instead, why don’t you give a gift to a charity of your coworker’s choosing or a hand-made coupon book to grab their lunch or bring them coffee. Anything that’s actually useful is the more environmentally-friendly choice.
If you shop online, shop early
There’s some back and forth about the actual carbon footprint of online shopping versus hitting your local brick-and-mortar stores. While we definitely encourage you to buy from locally-owned stores as a way to be environmentally (and economically) conscious, you can still have a positive environmental impact if you shop online, especially if you do so early. According to Andy Murdock at Vox, there is a high environmental cost to the two-day shipping we have all grown accustomed to. Umbra at Grist agrees: “The more time you give a company to fulfill your order, the more freedom it has to choose lower-carbon shipping methods. So if you don’t actually need your Cards Against Humanity game post-haste, patience is indeed a virtue.”
We know the holidays are an especially difficult time to be environmentally conscious because we just want to have a good time and host a holiday that is Pinterest-worthy. But, according the CDC, Americans throw away 25% more trash in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, which is not a great trend. To curb climate change, we will all have to start making some changes and that even applies to our holidays. Let us know how you have started to make your holiday celebrations more environmentally-friendly in the comments below.
This post is brought to you by Liveli Planner.