Christmas is a magical time of year. Unfortunately, this beautiful holiday can take quite a toll on our environment. Luckily there are many eco-friendly alternatives to help reduce waste, from the wrapping paper to the tree itself.
Decorating our homes for the holidays is something to look forward to every year. Lit-up houses make us feel cozy, but the lighting can use up a ton of energy and burn out quickly. Light-emitting diodes are now available in nearly every marketplace. They're an energy-efficient alternative to traditional light bulbs, which can use up to 95 percent more energy than LEDs. LEDs are often cheaper and more durable and last much longer than traditional lights. You can also use LED lighting for your interior decorations as well as the actual lighting of your tree.
If you're a huge fan of having a real tree for Christmas, good news! Many people believe this is still the most eco-friendly way to go. Many of the faux tree options are plastic or made of toxic, chemical-filled materials, which are then discarded. Plus, anywhere between 80 to 85 percent of Christmas trees are recycled into mulch, according to EarthEasy. Most cities and towns now have their own recycling centers for trees or they will provide a pickup service.
For Christmas cards, you can cut back on the paper and postage without taking away from the personalization or fun. In fact, there are many electronic holiday card services that are not only free, but also they make it easy to upload personal photos. This is not only better for the environment, but it helps you stay organized and keep track of who you've sent cards to. If you'd like to continue sending cards through the mail, search for brands that use recycled materials or make your own with leftover wrapping paper from the year before.
Speaking of wrapping paper, use leftover paper to cut down on the massive amounts of garbage that comes from making presents look "pretty." It's never too late to start saving old paper for the following year. You can also have some fun decorating old paper bags from the grocery store or using newspaper to wrap. There are dozens of Pinterest boards dedicated to time-efficient and eco-friendly wrapping options, one of which included using old cereal boxes!
As for presents, consider giving the gift of giving back. Look for organizations that donate a portion of their sales to helping various foundations. Or buy from companies that are B Corp-certified or practice sustainable methods of conducting their business. Or check out Oxfam America to see how you can help support a community in need.