Six Ways to Be Green This Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching and the world seems filled with red and green. We are all looking forward to some fun times with friends in the last couple of weeks of the semester here at Siena and making memories with family and friends at home.


As much fun as the holidays are, however, they are responsible for the accumulation of a lot of waste. It doesn’t have to be this way, though! Here are some great ways to be a little less red and a lot more green this holiday season, both in your dorm and at home.



1. The Tree

Decorating trees is one of the funnest ways to show your holiday cheer. However, it is understandably bad for the environment. In the United States alone, nearly 33 million trees are cut down each year for this festive holiday tradition. That’s a whole lot of lost trees and a whole lot of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.


For us Siena collegiettes, this is slightly less of a problem, as real greenery isn’t allowed in the residence halls. This makes small, fake trees the ideal environmental alternative to the holiday decoration for your dorm room.


When you’re home, encourage your family to also opt for a fake tree that you can reuse from year to year. If, however, you do plan on buying a real tree this holiday season, try to find a way to recycle it. Trees are entirely biodegradable and can be used as mulch by either your family or by the community. There are many local nonprofit organizations that can stop by to pick up your tree for you, saving you the small hassle of taking care of it yourself.


2. The lights

Delicate string lights add a magical touch to all holiday festivities, whether in your dorm or at home. Leaving them on for too long, however, can quickly waste electricity on a decoration. Using lights that have a timer can help spread the holiday magic without harming the environment.


Additionally, try to use LED string lights when decorating. These LED battery operated string lights are your best option: cheap, inexpensive, and battery operated, which means that they’re allowed in the residence halls.



3. The gift

The holidays are all about the spirit of giving. This year, try to think of the environment when planning your purchases for friends and family. Consider making a donation to your loved one’s favorite charity in their name--it’s a great way to make a positive contribution in the world in a season that’s filled with stuff.


If you’re going to give a tangible gift, consider DIY gifts or gifts that require little wrapping, like concert tickets. Both are thoughtful ways to show you care without creating an unnecessary amount of waste.


4. Gift wrap

What’s a gift without the wrapping paper or gift bag? Both add a sense of excitement and mystery to your gifts and have come to be a standard aspect of many holiday celebrations. However, they are usually thrown out, leading to a great deal of paper waste in landfills following the gift-giving season.


If your gifts are awkwardly shaped or don’t need to be wrapped, try eliminating or greatly reducing the typical gift wrap. A single bow on your unwrapped gift can act as a tasteful, environmentally-conscious alternative to tons of paper. If you do still want to wrap your presents, substitute store-bought wrapping for funny pages. It’ll add a personal and comic touch to all of your gifts this holiday season!


5. The card

Cards are everywhere in the holiday season. Hundreds flood your mailbox back home, and every present has one taped to the top. Replace your typical holiday card with a card made from recycled materials, or send out e-cards this year, to save paper all together.



6. The ride home

There really is no place like home for the holidays, as the song goes. However, as a collegiette possibly living away from home, a bit of travel is involved before your home’s festivities can begin. In order to prevent additional carbon dioxide emissions from either driving home alone or having your parents pick you up, try to carpool home or take public transportation. By reducing pollution from car emissions, you can help make the holidays a little more green.


After the holidays


You can take steps to further help the environment in the post-holiday haze that follows the festivities!

  1. Recycle as much as you can! From cards you don’t need to keep anymore to overly ripped up wrapping paper, if it can be recycled, you should recycle it.

  2. Save everything you can! If the wrapping paper or gift bags that you received your gifts in are still in good condition, save it! They can be reused next year or for some other gift, and can greatly reduce waste.

  3. Donate! If certain gifts weren’t entirely to your taste, return, exchange, or donate them to charity rather than throwing them out or letting them sit in your house unused.


The holidays are a fun and festive time for all of us, but this fun doesn’t have to be harmful to the environment. By following these steps, you can make your holiday a little more green!

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Her Campus Siena!