Flow into the Holidays: tips on how to be more sustainable during the holidays

We are Flowing into the holidays over here with tips on how to be more sustainable this year. Last Friday we did a Facebook live event where we talked all about this, so if you want to watch us live: check it out here:
This post is a recap of everything we discussed along with links to the resources we were mentioning. The three main topics: home decorating, throwing parties, and shopping/gifts.

Home Decorating:

We love to decorate for the holidays. It changes the mood of the space to enhance and embrace all of that Holiday cheer!


Real Trees, Cut Trees or Fake Trees

There are 3 primary options in this category: Real (cut) trees, Live trees, and Fake trees. Here are the pros & cons:

Real trees

  •     Farm (tree lot): these trees are grown to be cut, and new ones are planted in their place.
  •     Cut yourself: helps thin the forest; only a certain amount of permits are allowed, so it’s controlled.
  •     Both of these can be easily recycled! Look up your local tree recycling programs for more info and drop off/pick up locations.

Live tree

Fake trees

  •     Reuse, reuse, reuse! A fake tree should last a lifetime, so go for a quality tree, or repurpose one from a secondhand store
  •     Take good care of it, boxing it up each year so it will last
  •     These are made from plastics and chemicals that do not allow them to be recycled, so when you are done, donate it so someone else can find new life in it


Christmas Pinecones

Christmas never goes out of style, making it easy to reuse your decorations over and over. Whether you want to get some new items or find new ways to repurpose old ones for a new look, here are a few tips:

  •  Avoid disposable décor – use items that will last and can be reused year after year
  •  Buy Local — a huge component of being sustainable is to support your local community
  •  look for where it’s made: USA/locally or from another country
  • Reuse and repurpose — make use of what you already have:
  •  Frame Christmas wrapping paper in an existing frame
  • Put pine cones or pine branches in a vase
  •  Decorate your existing plants with lights and ornaments
  • Make homemade crafts! We had a lot of fun making some of these and showing them to you at our event. Here are some ideas:
  • Candles: look for soy candles as they burn cleaner than paraffin. Also, look for candles scented with essential oils or non-scented because artificial fragrance is made up of harmful chemicals
  • Lights: LED lights are energy-efficient and come in so many different styles

Throwing Parties

Make your holiday party sustainableWe love a good party! But a party can be super wasteful if you don’t plan ahead. It might seem easier to put out the paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic cups, but all of that is headed straight to the landfill. Here are some alternatives to consider:

  • Real dishes — it dresses up the occasion and people usually prefer to eat from a real plate. However, you might be rolling your eyes at all the cleanup, but considering the hours you likely spent preparing for the party, it will take less than an hour to do the dishes. The earth will thank you!
  • Plastic dishes & flatware — if you don’t have enough real dishes, then buy plastic ones. These can easily be washed and reused.

* Look for plastics that can be recycled at the end of their life
* Allows you to have fun with different styles such as gold flatware without a huge investment

  • Compostable/biodegradable items — if you do need a disposable option, be sure it’s compostable. There are so many great options for plates, flatware, cups, and more
  • Avoid any party favors, or if you do want to send your guests home with something, do handmade gifts such as jams, cookies, or candles

*This applies to kid’s birthday parties too. Set an example by not giving out anything, or if you do, make sure it’s not plastic, or items will just end up in the trash

  • Decorating — see our notes above for great ideas. These work for table settings as well as around the house.
  • Use cloth napkins and towels
  • Leftovers — start saving jars from the foods you buy, wash them, then send your guests home with leftovers in them
  • Wine — at the live event we did a wine tasting with sustainable wines. This means wines with no added sugar, no additives, no added sulfites. Here is a link for more info: https://scoutandcellar.com/lorihass or contact Lori at lphass@gmail.com

Shopping & Gifts

great tips for being a sustainable gift-giver

We love giving (and receiving), so the key here is to be really mindful. This includes the entire process from why you’re buying, what you’re buying, and where you’re buying it from. Here are a lot of great tips for being a sustainable gift-giver:

  • Be thoughtful — get people something they will love rather than buying for the sake of buying. Consider the lasting feeling the gift will evoke.
  • Give experiences — we personally love doing things with our loved ones more than receiving an item, so consider giving something you can do together or that they will love to do such as a restaurant gift card, cooking class, or maybe skydiving
  • Shop local! — we can emphasize this enough. It supports your community and is often more personal. Next, look at where it’s made and try to support made in the USA when possible.
  • Reuse or Re-Gift — the perfect gift might be the item in your home that your friend has had their eye on or something you were going to give away or donate. Clean it up and it will be just like new.
  • Shop secondhand stores or Facebook marketplace for the perfect thing that someone is getting rid of
  • Handmade – whether you’re good at building things, drawing, crafting, or baking, people love homemade gifts. It is so personal, and they know how much time and love you put into making it.
  • Gift wrap — we love to wrap our gifts in a beautiful encasement of paper and ribbon, but most of the time this ends up in the trash. A few easy alternatives:
    • Buy recycled content paper
  • Don’t buy paper with metallics or glitter as these cannot be recycled
  • Reuse paper grocery sacks or butch paper (really easy to recycle). Personalize it by painting it yourself. Just be sure to save time for it to dry.
  •  Use reusable ribbon
  •  Repurpose old cards for gift tags
  •  Gift bags are easily reusable
  • Save the tissue paper and reuse it time and time again

One other way to feel good about the holiday season is to give back there is no better time than now:

There are so many ways to integrate sustainability into your life, so we encourage you to focus on just a few things that resonate with you this season. It’s not about being perfect at this, as we certainly are not, but each little thing we do does make a difference!