Seasons Greenings: Tips for Being Green Over the Holidays
By DC EcoWomen Guest Blogger Carrie Hughes
No matter what you do or do not celebrate during the holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities to set a good and green example for your friends and family. Below are just a few tips that you can test out this month in hopes of starting the New Year off with a big, green bang.
Be a Green Host
If you are in charge of a holiday meal or have been unwillingly relegated to the dreaded holiday planning committee at work, you have lots of say as to how green the event can be. Whether you are planning a meal or just hors d’oeuvres, try to cut down on vegetables and fruits that are not in season, since they likely have a big carbon footprint and took a long journey to get from point A to your dinner table. Squash and greens are still growing strong in the area and they can be good menu staples. Additionally, if you are the turkey or ham buyer, try to support a local farm. There are a handful in the DC area. Jehovah-Jireh has come specifically recommended.
*Expert Tip*: As a host, you can go the extra mile by using only non-disposable cups and flatware at your festivity. Papers and plastics are tempting because of their ease, but using an assortment of whatever plates, bowls, cups, and mugs you already have in your pantry can be fun, too. For an added holiday twist, suggest guests can bring their own holiday-themed cup that be used throughout a party to fill up on wine, beer, cocktail, tea, soda, etc. It saves you the dishes, helps people keep track of their drinks, and can make for fun conversation pieces.
Be a Green Guest
You may have anywhere from one to a hundred holiday parties to attend, and you are going to have to bring a plate or drink to share to all of them. If your plan is to bring a dish, then all the advice above on shopping locally and in season certainly can be applied. Additionally, if you go the drink route, try to bring a beverage that is low in packaging and made locally. This is particularly true when talking about alcoholic beverages. For example, refillable glass growlers are a great and festive way to bring beer to share in a reusable bottle. Not to mention that you can likely fill up on a local brew directly at your nearest brewery, cutting down on the number of miles your beer has traveled. D’vines, a retail store, and Right Proper are just a few of the spots that will fill your growler right up. And in fact, The Washington Post recently outlined a few more brewery options, including those outside of DC in Virginia and Maryland, where you can either shop for individually packaged local beers or potentially get a freshly poured growler to share.
Be a Green Gift Giver
There are many ways to squeeze a little greenness into your gift giving. First, you can also choose to buy gifts that are recycled or sustainably made. Think repurposed leather bags and upcycled jewelry. Further, buying gift cards and services (maybe a 60 minute massage or a dance lesson) allows you to give gifts that are low impact – in terms of production and packaging. Plus, they don’t run the risk of ending up in the landfill.
*Expert Tip*: Ditch the wrapping paper. Reusable gift bags are a great alternative. Also, old newspapers and even junk mail often provide plenty of fodder to wrap your gifts and then can be recycled afterwards. Throw a bow on there and it’s just as pretty as the shiny stuff.
If you are like me, you already nag your friends and family to live a greener lifestyle 365 days of the year. Part of breaking the tradition of throw-it-away culture is showing people that it’s not all that hard to put a little green thought into your actions. So join me in sharing some local squash and a growler of Right Proper’s finest, as we unwrap Washington Post-clad presents. It’s time to usher in a New – and hopefully greener – Year!
Photos by Carrie Hughes