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Oct 05, 2022 • Emmeline Clein
The holiday season is officially upon us. Bars and restaurants have pulled out their Christmas decorations, your schedule is rife with holiday parties, and your roommates have probably already started arguing about whether you’re decorating the apartment. With all the festivities and traveling, it’s easy to slack off in the daily struggle to reduce your average environmental footprint around this time of year. Luckily, we’ve pulled together a few tips on how to stay relatively sustainable this holiday season.
If you travel by plane often, it’s almost definitely the biggest piece of your carbon footprint. Because airplanes need to use more fuel for every additional kilogram on the aircraft, packing light is an easy and effective way to incrementally reduce your contribution to your flight’s emissions.
Also, make sure you don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle and/or thermos on whatever trip you’re taking! Not buying that overpriced airport bottled water and not getting that much-needed latte upon arrival in a disposable cup can easily cut out plastic and paper waste.
If you’re headed somewhere in your region of the country, or you have a full day or more available to devote to travel, consider not taking a plane at all. Trains have a way smaller environmental footprint than airplanes, and Amtrak’s routes crisscross the country on all kinds of interesting routes. Plus, you can see states you never otherwise would have, and experience the retro thrill of a sleeping car.
If you’re getting a Christmas tree, real trees are the way to go. Artificial trees contribute to plastic waste, and are mostly made oceans away, so they also leave a footprint via the gas guzzling transportation they go through to get to your apartment. When purchasing a real tree, ask your local tree vendors where they source their trees, and choose the one that’s traveled the least distance! In terms of other decorations, try to avoid one-time use decorative items like streamers and themed paper tablecloths. Instead of electric Christmas lights that add to your apartment’s electricity use, light your space with festive candles.
Post-party dish duty is objectively a drag, but don’t let the fear of drudgery prevent you from throwing a low-waste holiday party. Disposable plastic and paper plates, cutlery, and cups create a shocking amount of new landfill waste every year over the holiday season, so if you can, use the plates, silverware, and cups you already own. Put on some holiday bangers while you do the dishes and it will be done in no time.