Environmentally-Friendly Holidays

Compiled by Linda DeStefano, with help from NY League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Rainforest Alliance and Centers for Disease Control.

Translated by Rob English.

People in the U.S. throw away about 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The tips below would significantly reduce this waste (They are not listed in any order of importance; they are all important).

1. You can help not waste a life. How? Adopt a dog or cat from a local animal shelter. If you are planning to give the animal as a gift, be sure the recipient wants a companion animal and is able to care for her/him properly. Bring the recipient with you to the shelter so she or he can choose the animal they want.

2. Every item that is made takes natural resources (such as, water, metal, wood) petroleum and energy. Instead of exchanging material gifts, consider offering the recipient a ticket to a local event, an I.O.U. to help with a chore, or make a donation to the recipient’s favorite charity.

3. If giving a material gift, try to choose a product which is durable, reusable, recyclable, energy-efficient, local or fair trade.

4. If you were given a gift you can’t use, “re-gift” it to someone who can – or donate it to a charity.

5. If you have gifts to wrap, re-use paper that you’ve saved from another event or use some imaginative wrapping, such as colorful newspaper. Also save and re-use holiday bags and tins.

6. Make your holiday meals compassionate, environmentally-friendly and delicious. Consider serving only plant-based meals: veggies, fruits, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and all the yummy dishes which can be made from them. You can take the convenient route of buying the items you’ll serve, such as a Tofurkey roast, pre-made gravy, and cranberry sauce. You can add potatoes and veggies. Even the dessert can be purchased, such as vegan pumpkin cheesecake. Or you can create your own vegan feast. For recipes and other resources, see atlantic2.sierraclub.org/conservation/biodiversity.

7. Consider using reusable utensils and tableware. Bring a reusable bag when shopping.

8. If you use holiday lights, buy LED bulbs, which are energy-efficient. Save additional energy by putting the string on a timer.

9. Think about buying a living, potted Christmas tree. You can later plant it in your yard or, if it’s the small variety, keep it as a houseplant.

10. If you shop online, don’t choose fast delivery. By opting for regular delivery, you give the company the ability to use transportation more efficiently, such as, filling a delivery truck rather than sending it off partly full. This reduces gas consumption, air pollution and congestion.

11. If you exchange holiday cards, consider e-cards or physical cards made with post-consumer recycled paper.

Enjoy the Holidays!

Linda is President of People for Animal Rights, which works to protect the Earth, which sustains us all. You can reach PAR at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., people4animalrightscny@gmail.com and peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.