photo: Jack F/iStock

Super-Easy Ways to Make Your Holiday Season More Sustainable

By AMA Staff

Make the most of the holidays while minimizing your ecological footprint!

It may seem bad for the environment to cut down a tree every holiday season, but the manufacture and shipping of artificial trees actually creates more carbon emissions. Even though a plastic tree lasts longer, its “needles” can release harmful chemicals as they degrade over time, while farmed real trees absorb and store carbon as they grow—typically for six to 10 years. Many municipalities also recycle used trees into mulch and wood chips. Or get a living tree with its root ball intact. After the holidays, you can plant it in your yard!

Forgo plastic, battery-operated toys in favour of gifts made by local artisans: a wooden toy for your young niece; matching hand-knitted mittens for your parents; a one-of-a-kind piece of art for your best friend. Your efforts will be rewarded with more sustainable, longer-lasting presents to be cherished by their recipients.

Instead of buying fancy new wrapping paper that’s just going to be tossed out anyway, consider using inexpensive materials you already have on-hand: old newspaper or magazine pages, construction paper your kids can decorate, and if you’ve saved them, last year’s gift bags. For an even greener solution, use scarves and blankets as temporary gift wrap.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are now a common choice for many families’ home lighting needs. If you still have some strings of incandescent bulbs, make the switch to LED. They last far longer, are up to 90% more energy-efficient and give off significantly less heat—meaning they’re less of a fire hazard. If you need a ladder to hang them outdoors, remember to ask someone to spot you. And avoid using nails or staples; you risk electrocution if you inadvertently puncture a wire.