At the risk of sounding like a cliche, the holidays seem to come earlier every year.
Today, my five-year-old asked when the Halloween decorations were going up.
I make no bones over the fact that I love the holiday season. A large part of it is that it gives me an excuse to indulge in things I love the most namely decorating, crafting, and cooking. Even though I consider myself to be fairly eco-friendly, there is no denying that generally speaking, the holiday season is anything but green.
Consider just the amount of petroleum products associated with Halloween. In addition to those cute plastic jack -o’-lanterns and other decorations, most costumes-children’s and adults’-are made out of materials like acrylic, nylon, spandex, etc. that are oil-derived.
Still, it doesn’t even come close to Christmas. In her 2008 book, A Greener Christmas, author Sheherazade Goldsmith reveals that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day “are two of the most polluting days of the year” with approximately three billion tons of extra garbage produced worldwide.
Lest anyone thing that Thanksgiving gets a pass, it doesn’t. That fresh fruit salad and green bean casserole made with out-of-season ingredients was probably flown in a plane from at least a few thousands miles away.
So, what’s an eco-friendly guy or girl to do?
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to mean not celebrating or not decorating.
There is a way where most of us can get into the Halloween and holiday festivities without causing more of a burden on our already overwhelmed planet.
Read below for 3 tips:
1. Whenever possible, reduce, reuse and recycle.
Most if not the majority of seasonal items end up in the trash. Before we go out and buy something new, it’s better to look at what we already have. For instance, do you need a new Halloween costume or do you already have one from a a few seasons ago that no one will probably remember if you wear it again?
Also, do you have anything hanging in your closet that can be re-purposed? (For instance, I have a great vintage sequin dress I wore to an office Christmas party a few years ago that would make a great flapper dress for Halloween or could be worn easily worn as-is to another holiday party.)
While petroleum is generally not very eco-friendly, it makes more sense to buy some sturdy plastic decorations that can be used for years than a bunch of “green” paper or wood ones that will mostly likely end up in the trash. (Even taking such items to a recycling center does not ensure that they will be recycled.)
Lastly, think of the practical reasons when buying any sort of seasonal items: they aren’t going to be displayed for long. Do you have the necessary storage space for the rest of the year?
Would you rather put the money towards something you would use all year long?
Depending on the answers, we may decide we really don’t need something after all.
2. Think local—especially when it comes to food.
Trying to buy local-whether it’s apples for Halloween candied apples or a turkey from an area farm for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner -can lesson our carbon footprint. (It’s also good for the local economy.)
While most of us don’t have the time to make our own Halloween candy, local candy shops still exist in many places and sometimes it is comparable or even cheaper to buy from the latter in bulk.
None of these are an option where you live? Then at least try to buy and eat seasonal. (A guide like this one can of great help.)
3. Cut down on cards.
It used to be the only times cards were routinely exchanged was during Christmas but now there is a card for every holiday including ones for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Unless it is a special situation, consider eliminating cards. If that’s too extreme, they at least trim your card list. Electronic cards are a great option for acquaintances or relatives who live overseas.
It also doesn’t hurt to ask people if they still want to be included on our greeting card list: many people are opting out for environmental reasons or because they simply receive too many to begin with. It may surprise you how many people you know may say “yes” to not receiving a card.
In conclusion, Halloween and the holiday season that follows is often a much-loved time for many. By all means, celebrate, but keep the planet in mind as well. We all hear that the holiday season only comes once a year, but we have to live on the earth all year, all the time for the entire time we are alive.
Therefore, it’s worth it to take a little time to make sure that our “harmless” little thrills aren’t going to end up taking up space in a landfill somewhere long after we are no longer here or that the carbon footprint of a memorable holiday meal isn’t going to make it more challenging for others to grow raise food in an increasingly hotter climate in the future.
Luckily, we can do this and still have fun showing that at least sometimes, it is possible to have our cake and eat it, too.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Mike Spasoff at Flickr