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Written by Rosie Keating, Co-Chair of University Engagement Committee

While the approaching winter holidays signify a time of comfort, family, giving, and celebration, it simultaneously is a season of increased electricity use and material and food waste. Although it is important to enjoy the holidays, it is also worth considering how small behavior adaptations can make you a more sustainable consumer. 

Tips for Sustainable Holiday Consumption!

  • Support sustainable companies and local businesses. Items made from recycled materials can make great gifts, and your loved ones might appreciate your effort to give them a green gift. If you are stuck on what to give someone, consider an environmentally friendly item or something that promotes sustainable habits. Local farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and locally-owned stores are a great place to start. 
  • When online shopping on Amazon or other online platforms, consider how many separate purchases you are making. On a platform like Amazon where many consumers receive free shipping, it is easy to constantly be purchasing things. If purchasing from Amazon, try to get all your goods at the same time to avoid unnecessary packaging and shipping transactions. 
  • Donate to a non-profit organization in the name of your loved one. If you are struggling to think of a gift idea for a particular person, consider donating toward a cause that they are passionate about. 
  • Think about alternatives to wrapping paper. One great alternative is soft wrapping such as scarves, towels, or other items you already own that won’t create more waste. Old materials such as newspapers and magazines also make great wrapping paper.
  • Buying new holiday decorations or lights? Solar-powered LED lights are more environmentally friendly than traditional Christmas lights. You can also recycle old holiday lights at a local scrap metal dealer. 
  • Regarding food waste, consider donating leftover food to local food banks, and compost food that cannot be donated. Try to shop locally grown food. Anything locally grown travels fewer miles, and therefore, creates fewer carbon emissions. 

Ultimately, these tips are small modifications that many consumers could reasonably adopt to lower their carbon footprint this holiday season. As a new year approaches, many people tend to feel some level of anxiety about the uncertainties that lay ahead. The threat of incessant world problems can be overwhelming, and as individuals, we often feel helpless in contributing to a solution. While many of the societal problems we face may be grander than any one person’s contribution, I find that it can be comforting to know that you, as an individual, are working to be part of the solution. No matter how small the individual contribution is in the fight against climate change, it is still a step in the right direction.  

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