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How to be More Sustainable During the Holidays

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

With worries about the climate crisis and the arrival of the holidays, many are looking for ways to be more sustainable when gift giving. So, here are a few ideas for those who would like to have an eco-friendly holiday!

Make your own wrapping paper!

The majority of wrapping papers bought at stores are not recyclable and much of the wrapping goods we consume are made with unethical labor. Instead of buying wrapping paper from a Walmart or Target, you can make and recycle your own! Use old newspapers you’d usually throw out or wrap your gifts with another gift, such as a scarf, blanket, sweater, or bandana. There are so many creative alternatives to wrapping presents. You could even do a fun scavenger hunt and remove wrapping paper all together!

Cook as much as you will eat!

At the holidays, Americans throw away 25% more trash during Thanksgiving to New Year’s every year (Stanford, 2021). This is due to a variety of single use items such as wrapping paper, but food also contributes to this. When shopping for food, try and anticipate the number of servings needed to feed your friends, family, or holiday party to avoid waste. Continuing to eat leftovers for the few days following the holiday is also beneficial. Another way you can help both the environment and local economies is by shopping for local and organic foods. While this may be a little pricier, you are helping out small businesses and being a conscious consumer! Many local farmers practice sustainable and ethical farming practices unlike many large corporations. By buying small, you know where your food is coming from and in turn, you’re allowing sustainable farms to continue!

Recycle your Christmas Tree!

Every year, 10 million Christmas tree get thrown into a landfill (Gifford, 2015). Instead of throwing your tree away, find a program in your city or town that turns your tree into usable goods such as mulch or wood chips. Christmas trees can also be used for environmental project. Look up recycling programs and find a better way to dispose of your beloved tree!

Make your own gifts!

Something I frequently practice is making my own gifts. Not only do these benefit the environment, but often those receiving the gift feels the love and attention put into the gift, rather than just being handed a store-bought good.

There are so many options when it comes to handcrafted gifts. If you know how to sew, making an embroidered ornament or DIYing a pair of old jeans can go a long way. Knitted goods are always good for cold weather! Try making a simple scarf or hat! Even a handwritten letter or holiday card can be greatly appreciated! Small things mean so much and taking the time to make a loved one a unique gift really shows how much you love them.

Purchase local gifts!

Just like buying produce from local farmers, buying gifts from local artisans is a fantastic way to be more eco-friendly! Many local artisans make small batch goods that are unique, beautiful works of art! Buying jewelry, ceramics, prints, or clothing from local artisans can really help their small businesses thrive, and your loved ones will always enjoy getting high quality goods that they can use forever.

Make your own stocking stuffers!

Stocking stuffers are something all of my little siblings always love unpacking immediately after waking up Christmas morning, however, they’re usually single use goods that are consumed that day. Instead of gifting the usual chocolate and candy, why not gift something that can be used for an extended period of time like wool socks, small jewelry items, or eco-friendly beauty products.

While the climate crisis is a bigger issue than just individual waste, there are small ways you can reduce your own carbon-footprint and make your holidays all the brighter! The holidays shouldn’t be so focused on consuming goods. The holidays are about spending time with those you love, and the gifts you give should be a reflection of that. Hopefully this article gives you some ideas and I hope your holidays are absolutely wonderful! Happy holidays!


Gifford, D. (2015). 12 Ways to Have an Eco Friendly Holiday. Retrieved from Small Footprint Family: https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/eco-friendly-holiday-tips

Stanford University . (2021). Frequently Asked Questions: Holiday Waste Prevention. Retrieved from PSSI/Stanford Recycling Land, Buildings, and Real Estate: https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention

Hi! I am Savannah Miles! I am a Seattleite now relocated to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and in my summers, Charlottesville, Virginia, who you can often find reading a book from my extensive Goodreads list, going on walks across campus, eating sushi or chicken curry while downing a Yerba Mate, drawing and writing poetry in the same green sketchbook my grandmother gave me, or attempting to motivate myself to go hiking or rock climbing in Arizona's blazing heat. I am passionate about learning and teaching history, so it makes sense that I now major in it, and a big dream of mine is to utilize my Spanish and Public administration minors by joining the Peace Corps after I graduate college. Topics that I can talk for ages about include feminism and sexual assault, human rights and subsequent violations occurring globally, ethical evangelism and healthy church ministry, and the history of abolition and slavery (since I accomplished a pretty lengthy research paper exploring those topics, and I'm quite proud of it!). I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to share my thoughts, opinions, and excited ramblings to a community of likeminded, intelligent, and powerful women and I hope my articles bring about new ideas, insights, and possible interests!
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