Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Giving

By Jen Van Hal, Cascade Twp. Branch

With the holidays just around the corner, being environmentally friendly might not be at the top of your worry list. We want our socially-distanced celebratory experiences to be as pleasant and authentic as they can be. That our Zoom family get-togethers helps us cut back on our fuel use feels like a sad consolation... Here are a few easy ways to make the holidays a bit more eco-friendly without much mental effort so you can focus more on your deserving loved ones.

- Approximately 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper, opens a new window ends up in the landfill each year; if it contains glitter, plastic, or leftover tape, it cannot be recycled. Use recycled wrapping paper or make your own. Wrap with old maps, the comics section of the newspaper, children’s artwork, brown paper bags. Or use a scarf, an attractive dish towel, or a bandana that can be reused.

- Buy energy-saving LED holiday lights. Don’t forget to turn them off when you are not using them! Timers are a great tool for your lights.

- Add organic and local foods to your holiday feast. There are many ways to cook and serve food, opens a new window in an eco-friendly manner as well, including grilling or smoking your food, only running the dishawasher when its full, and avoiding paper plates and plastic silverware.

- Recycle your Christmas tree. Grand Rapids has several free drop-off sites, opens a new window for Christmas trees.

- Purchase eco-friendly and locally made gifts. Or, instead of gifts, consider donating to a cause that has meaning for your gift recipient. You can also give experiential gifts. Tickets to a ball game, a zoo or museum membership, a cooking class, or a pottery painting session will give your friends and family a unique experience.

What other ways can you make the holiday season more environmentally friendly?