5 Effective Ways You Can Help the Environment this Holiday Season

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The holidays are coming soon, full of good food, family and presents. For many of us the holidays are the happiest time of year and something we look forward to for months. However, with all of the lovely distractions, it can be easy to forget other commitments—such as our desire to help the environment. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be hard to go green and still enjoy all of your favorite holiday traditions. Here are five ways how you can do just that.

1. Reuse Wrapping Paper

All of those beautiful wrappings are one of the biggest sources of waste during the holiday season. Instead of going out and buying new paper every year and then immediately throwing it away Christmas morning, save the paper that is salvageable and use it again the next year. The same goes for boxes, gift bags and ribbons. You can also make your own pretty wrappings out of paper bags from the grocery store by using a Christmas stamp or some pretty ribbon to dress it up. Functional wrappings, such as a scarf or towel, provide a quick option if you aren’t crafty or have a last minute gift to prepare.

2. Buy Used Decorations

There’s really no reason to spend our hard-earned cash on brand new decorations year after year. Instead, go to thrift shops to look for used bargain pieces that can get a second life, be used year after year and save your money for other things
(such as more presents or a killer Christmas dinner). Carefully wrap and store your decorations away after the holidays are over, and pull them out again next year. After 12 months, they will feel like brand new.

3. Cut Back on Energy Consumption

We tend to consume much more energy in the winter, as we are heating our homes through the cold winter months, and tend drive cars instead of walk in order to stay out of the cold. There’s no need to freeze out your holiday guests or yourself this holiday season in the name of saving the planet, but there are some easy ways to cut back on energy consumption. Many digital home automation systems come with a smart thermostat that will automatically turn the heat down while you are away and then turn it back up, so your house is nice and toasty when you arrive back home. Turning the thermostat down at night, or during a party, when the room temperature tends to rise naturally, are also good options.

4. Go Paperless

Receipts, family letters and Christmas cards all use up a lot of paper and are all thrown away in a matter of weeks. Instead, save paper and money by going paperless. Ask stores to email you a gift receipt instead of printing one, and send cards and letters via email or other e-card services. Most of these services will now let you customize your card complete with the traditional family photo and all for free, so no need to make sacrifices.

5. Watch Water Use

Water use tends to go up during the holidays as we are feeding big crowds and washing lots of dishes. Be conscious of how much water you use while you are preparing and cleaning up meals, and look for ways to conserve. Filling the sink up with suds to wash instead of leaving the faucet running, for example, can save gallons of water. Scraping plates into the trash instead of rinsing them will also save water.