By Marilyn Jerome
Travel, shopping, dining and gift-giving are activities that are generally more pronounced during the holidays. Unfortunately, these activities may inadvertently prove challenging to the environment. On a redeeming note, there is an opportunity to partake in seasonal festivities and tradition while also practicing environmentally friendly behavior for the holidays and beyond. Holiday activities such as gift giving and dinner parties needn’t be environmentally harmful if we take deliberate steps toward conscientious behavior. Here are a few tips that one might adopt to create a holiday season that simultaneously supports tradition and environmental stewardship.
Choosing to hand-craft gifts rather than purchasing them may hold more meaningful value for some people while providing a more environmentally friendly outcome. Homemade edibles are thoughtful and offer an opportunity to utilize locally grown foods and recyclable materials. For those who enjoy arts and crafts, such as knitting, painting and jewelry making, special customized gifts are always great ideas that reduce the need for intense shopping. Skipping gift wrap for simple bows or useful baskets is also another environmentally conscious choice. A talent may even be given as a gift, through private informal performances among friends and families. There are countless ways in which we can give without creating traffic congestion and overconsumption. These are only a few examples which may further spark your own imagination.
Holiday parties can incorporate environmentally friendly elements through the use of eco-friendly trappings such as, re-usable dinnerware, edible decorations such as popcorn strings and recyclable aluminum foil rather than plastic wrap. If steps like these are collectively adopted huge impacts may be realized in the context of resource management, sustainability and environmental protection, especially so during seasons of historically high economic activity. More conscientious holiday celebrators in the New York Metropolitan area, for instance, may translate into decreased consumption, increased recycling activity and less traffic.
About the Author: Marilyn Jerome is a volunteer intern with EPA’s Region 2 Public Affairs Division. She is currently an environmental studies major at Queens College in Flushing, NY.