It’s the most magical time of the year, full of traditions and joy and family. And every year is the chance to make new memories and form new annual traditions. This year, I’m going to adapt some of my favorite aspects of the holiday to be a little more environmentally responsible.
Want to join in? Here are some of my best ideas for making Christmas Eve and Christmas morning more sustainable. Maybe they’ll inspire you to start your own green traditions.
- Take a neighborhood walk to admire the holiday lights. Our family has a longstanding Christmas Eve tradition to pile into the car and drive around the neighborhood, admiring decorated houses and beautiful Christmas lights. This year, instead of driving, we’ll bundle up and take a stroll to admire the lights. Not only will we cut down on energy use and pollution, but the slower pace will allow us to enjoy the sights a little more.
- Organize a caroling party. What better way to spend Christmas Eve than to go caroling with friends? Wander through the neighborhood, or visit a nursing home, shelter, firehouse or anywhere else that you think would be touched by some holiday cheer.
- Dress in your coziest jammies and slippers. Turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees and bundle up in comfy flannel pajamas, a soft robe, and your warmest slippers. You’ll save energy on the heat, without feeling the chill. Sipping hot chocolate or tea helps keep you feeling warm and festive, too.
- Turn off the tube. Sure, the umpteenth screening of It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story is playing, but do you really need to see it again? Instead, pull out some board games, do a puzzle as a family, or do a round of charades.
- Set the slow cooker to have breakfast ready. Energy-efficient slow cookers can help you bake a yummy Christmas morning breakfast that’ll be ready with little fuss when you’re done opening presents.
- Save the ribbon and giftwrap. As you’re unwrapping your gifts, try to avoid wrinkling and ripping the giftwrap and ribbons. You can roll it into a tube and store it for reuse, or use it for other projects.
- Make sure to recycle the tree. You’ll probably want to leave your tree up for a few days, but many tree recycling programs will be collecting trees soon after the New Year. Many municipalities or even home improvement stores or landscaping companies will accept trees, which they chip into mulch and use in city parks and playgrounds. The National Christmas Tree association has ideas on responsibly disposing of your tree.