Four Tips For An Eco-Friendly Christmas Celebration

By now, your Christmas lights and decorations are up. Public places are looking colorful and probably blasting Christmas carols. I love Christmas— most people do— because it is a time of love, sharing, family reunions, giving/accepting gifts, and a break from our daily jobs. Everyone can finally pause and just breathe, enjoy the company of their loved ones, and eat a lot of home-made foods. But while you are having a jolly time, I think we should keep in mind how our celebrations may affect the environment. Yes, an eco-friendly Christmas celebration is possible!

What has Christmas got to do with the environment, climate change, and eco-friendliness? A lot! Waste generation surges to an all-time high during Christmas and the environment suffers. Andy Jessop calls it “Christmas pollution” in his report, “the true cost of Christmas.” For instance, more people are driving or flying across countries and continents for the holidays. We’d love the pictures/videos that make it to the gram, their families will be excited to have them, travelogues may be written, but it will tell on the environment because it takes the burning of an enormous amount of fossil fuel to make those trips possible. Does this imply that you should cancel your flights or travel plans for the holiday? Not at all, but there are four other things you can do to have an awesome but eco-friendly Christmas celebration:

  • Select recyclable Christmas gift wraps

It is the season of love and sharing, so there will be lots of gifts to wrap and unwrap. Whether you will place the gifts under a Christmas tree or have them couriered to your loved ones, the gift wraps you choose should be recyclable. Wrap sheets or gift boxes made with paper or cardboard are highly recommended because they are 100% recyclable. If you happen to receive gifts wrapped with sheets with a thin plastic film or entirely made from plastic, unwrap gently and save the sheet for reuse.

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  • Cut down on food wastage

If you overestimate the number of expected guests and make a large meal, you have to deposit leftovers in a refrigerator as soon as possible. Food wastage significantly increases greenhouse (GHG) footprint as they generate a strong GHG known as methane when deposited in landfills or waste heaps. You can prevent this by immediately securing leftovers in a fridge for later consumption or package and distribute to orphanages or IDP camps. Whatever you do, don’t dump food in waste bins this Christmas.

  • Don’t buy Christmas celebration items, if you can rent them

Christmas happens only once a year. Why should you buy a Christmas tree if you can rent one? Why should you buy extra furniture to host more guests to a Christmas dinner if you could rent the same tables and chairs? By renting, you save some money and also protect the environment in some way. Responsible consumption is also about optimizing what we already have, rather than manufacturing brand new ones. Rent the decors, extra furniture, or whatever else you only need at Christmas if it’s available in local rental shops.

  • Plan to dispose your Christmas waste well

What becomes of the decorations, Christmas trees, hats, and gift boxes after the holiday is over? While some pieces of decorative items could be reused, wastes generated from making large meals, christmas hats, gift boxes/sheets, plastic bottles for drinks, beverage cans, etc cannot be reused. Since some of the wastes will not be biodegradable, you should have different trash cans for them. No one likes to look through trash to sort wastes but you create labeled trash cans, directing family members and guests to drop plastic bags in ‘waste bin A’ and vegetables or fruit rinds in ‘waste bin B’. So for instance, if you get a gift wrapped with paper sheets but held in place by plastic ribbons, deposit the ribbons in ‘waste bin A’ and the shredded sheets in ‘waste bin B’.

The environment does not have to suffer while we have fun this Christmas. Yes, it doesn’t, but only if you remember these tips, apply them, and share them with someone.

Happy Holidays to you!

Ehi-kowoicho Ogwiji is a storyteller and science writer who advocates for a science-literate Africa. She aspires to be a science development communicator and leader of important conversations around gender imbalances in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine) in Africa and around the world. She writes from Abuja, Nigeria. Connect with her on social media @ogwijiehi or email her at ehikowoicho.ogwiji@gmail.com

 

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