Green and Bright: Celebrating a Sustainable Holiday Season

Ah, the holidays — a time of twinkling lights, cozy gatherings, gift-giving, and, let’s be honest, a fair bit of excess. From mountains of gift wrap to endless online orders, this festive season often leaves a hefty carbon footprint.

But what if we flipped the script this year? What if we embraced sustainability as part of our holiday cheer? It’s easier than you think with these green ideas to make this holiday season both merry and bright.

Shop small, shop local

Forget the endless online scrolling and the hustle of big box stores. This year, let’s keep it close to home. Visit one of the charming downtowns in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Dexter, Chelsea, Saline, or your local area. By shopping at small businesses, you’re not only supporting the local economy but also cutting down on packaging waste and emissions from long-distance shipping. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Second-hand decor

Why buy new when pre-loved items can add a unique charm to your holiday decor? Thrift stores like The Salvation Army and Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop are treasure troves of festive finds—from vintage ornaments to unique wreaths. It’s sustainable, cost-effective and you might just find that one-of-a-kind quirky piece that becomes the talk of your holiday gatherings.

Rethink the holiday tree

If you can’t imagine the holidays without a real tree, consider eco-friendlier options. How about a living tree that can be planted post-holidays or a locally grown one to minimize transport emissions? Flatsnoots Christmas Trees has everything from “3-foot table-tops to monster 15-footers” as well as live potted trees.

Photo from Pexels.

DIY decorations: a new tradition

Invite friends and family for a DIY decoration party. Turn old greeting cards into ornaments, string popcorn and cranberries into garlands, or fashion a wreath from artificial greens. It’s a fun way to bond, reduce waste, and perhaps start a new annual tradition. 

Dessert exchange delight

Organize or attend a dessert exchange, swapping treats like cookies and chocolates with friends. This festive and eco-friendly tradition reduces the need for store-bought sweets and driving around, offering a sweet, community-centered way to celebrate.

Photo from Pexels.

Ugly Sweater, beautiful idea

Embrace the joy of the ugly holiday sweater by visiting Ragstock in Ann Arbor for an eclectic mix of pre-owned holiday wear. It’s a sustainable, and often hilarious, way to join in the festive fun.

Bag it sustainably

Reduce the use of single-use bags by carrying a reusable one or consolidating purchases into fewer bags. Every small step counts in reducing waste.

Gift Bags: reuse and revel

Join me in the art of gift bag recycling. It’s not just cost-effective; it’s a small gesture with a big impact on reducing waste. Plus, who doesn’t love a slightly crinkled, well-loved gift bag? 

White elephant: the sustainable gift swap

Photo from Pexels.

Add a sustainable spin to your holiday with a “white elephant” gift exchange. This fun tradition involves each participant wrapping a pre-owned item that is longer needed or used. When it’s your turn, you can choose to unwrap a new gift or “steal” an already opened one from someone else. You can even theme the exchange. Consider options like ornaments, books, wacky and weird, or just giver’s choice…the sky’s the limit!

As we wrap up, remember that a sustainable holiday season is about more than reducing our environmental impact — it’s about creating meaningful traditions that celebrate our community. Together, we can make this holiday season memorable, not just for its joy but also for the positive mark it leaves. Happy, sustainable holidays to all!

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