Five Ways To Make The Holidays More Green And Less Stressful
As the holidays approach it is easy to feel overwhelmed by too much financial pressure, expectation, and stress building up at a time when energy begins to wane and all you want to do is curl up in a blanket and nap, or watch a favorite show or read a favorite book. On top of that, it can feel like a losing battle, which leaves you awash in things–things you don’t want or need, along with the waste that comes with those things via packaging and wrapping.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make each holiday, that you choose to celebrate, one where you take conscious control of the shape it takes. You can create holidays with loved ones and friends that you actually look forward to–with little to zero stress, pressure, or worry. Here are some helpful tips to make your holidays more Green, more sustainable, peaceful, and meaningful.
1. Whatever you do, start with an overall focus on minimalism and simplicity by continually aiming to eliminate waste and unwanted items. Best approaches often include: reusing what you already have, seeking to have safe and effective reusable items, and avoiding single-use throwaway items. Save wrapping and gift bags, and reuse them. Simplicity and minimalism, at their best, leave you with all that you do want and enjoy, making the experience totally meaningful and spacious in feeling and fact. This approach may necessitate a releasing of expectations as well; yours and others. If this is the case, look at what gives you and your family members the most joy and peace in the situation and holiday. You may need to sit down by yourself first to reflect on what you most want it to be, and then talk with family members and see what they most enjoy and want. Sometimes you will be on the same page, other times it will come down to compromise. Either way, look at it as positive steps to meaningful and needed change that favors sustainable, healthy, and earth-friendly actions. If you have things that you don’t want anymore, have them responsibly recycled or donate to those who will find them useful, either as they are or via repurposing, fixing, or otherwise upcycling them.
2. Choose and use holiday light sources that do the least harm. If you use lights for the holidays, choose ones that can be reused, use the least amount of energy, and are safe for your health and the environment. If the lights have batteries, choose ones that you can and will replace. Speaking of batteries, make sure that you take non-alkaline batteries to a hazardous waste site when they no longer work. It is important to note, some string lights contain lead and other toxic heavy metals. Look for lights that are safe for your health and the environment. Here are some ideas: solar-powered LED string lights, RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) compliant lights, solar-powered lanterns, alkaline battery-powered LED lights. All of these options are widely affordable, but maybe not always available locally. Search online to find the best options near you.
3. Embrace creative approaches to decoration. What is the actual purpose and meaning of each upcoming holiday you plan to participate in? Find ways to express and share it in ways that focus on creativity, health, experiences, and relationship, rather than on things, excess waste, and consumption. Decorations can be a celebration of creativity, reuse, and ingenuity. If you are not feeling creative enough to pull this off, look for local artists and other types of artisans and crafty folks who also value and execute projects with the ideals of zero-waste, reusing, repurposing, fixing, and upcycling. When you support local artisans who are committed to sustainable approaches you accomplish two positive proactive actions in one. Win, win!
4. Choose to amplify what money can’t buy. Experiences, stories, quality time together….these are gifts to one another which are priceless. Celebrate the holiday in ways that go far beyond materialism and the damaging, often toxic constructs of consumerism. Sing, dance, create music and/or art, tell stories, hike, walk, bike, play new or old beloved games or sports (indoors and out), build something, make Green kind meals together, and make and decorate Green, kind desserts together. Create a new environment in your home that is conducive to play and new approaches–consider even an indoor picnic, fort, or tent! Create and preserve memories. Spend time with elderly family members or friends, record their stories, talk dreams you’ve had and what you think they mean, share a hobby you enjoy with everyone. Give everyone a turn to share. Another approach is to donate your time and presence to worthy and charitable causes. All of this, and experiences in Nature together can make the holidays a time of true peace, joy, and adventure.
5. When you do buy items consider gifts that invest in what is sustainable. Look for unique and meaningful gifts that you can afford, and that support local small businesses, local farmers, and local artisans. Also, seek to support resale, vintage, and thrift shops. Make something old new again by upcycling it for new use and a new life. Find toxin-free, sustainable recipes for body care or for meals, get the ingredients and gift them to loved ones in reusable baskets or jars. Support products that are proactive in being sustainable and kind, aiming for zero-waste and to be toxin-free. Gift loved ones with experiences, or gift certificates (preferably on recycled paper or on reusable cards) for experiences. If there has been too much gift-giving going on in the past, to the point that everyone feels stressed and overwhelmed by it: suggest a limit on one gift per person, or create a drawing for gift giving assignments. If there are young children, there can still be a limit placed on the amount and form of gifts given–at least amongst family members who communicate openly with one another. Obviously, when introducing new ideas into traditional events, open communication and active listening are essential for everyone involved. Be patient, because some need time to adjust to change, but don’t give up, because it is a worthy and just cause! When looking for gifts for children, look for items that don’t involve single-use items, plastic, or other unnecessary waste.
Lastly, here is a bonus suggestion for your holiday plans: buy my book, Recipe For A Green Life, as a holiday gift, or as a source for recipes (body care, oral care, self-care, cleaning, and meals) that you can create and gift to friends and loved ones for the holidays! And, if you don’t want an actual hard copy of the book, get the e-book, which will be released quite soon! Subscribe to this blog to be notified when it is released.
CS Sherin, Recipe For A Green Life 2018© Please feel free to share this article–in its entirety with author, source credit, and this copyright notice–on social media and for non-commercial educational purposes only.