Tips to make the Holidays Green

By Ariana Nieves,
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

Image of Support Small Businesses phrase on paper bagWhat better way to celebrate the season than by reducing your impact on the environment? Being green this season is easy and a great way to shake up the holidays and spread warmth and delight. Follow these tips to create a unique, green holiday season for you and your loved ones!

  1. Settling the Great Debate: Real vs Fake

It’s the age-old debate that has plagued the season for years, dividing thousands of people over original holiday traditions and new modern ones, the real or fake Christmas tree. We all know the alluring smell of pine that fills our living rooms setting the mood for Christmas cheer and we also know the dreaded cleanup of pesky needles on our carpets. The convenience of towing a box out of the attic and assembling a plastic tree each year without spending money is all convincing as well. But which one is better for the environment?

The answer may not be as obvious as it seems. According to experts, real Christmas trees are better! If the tree is obtained from a sustainable tree farm and is relatively local it is still the reigning champ of the season; it is also easier to dispose of after the holidays. The trees can be donated to a tree-recycling center or chipped up into mulch. Additionally, you can purchase a potted tree so it can be planted or repotted after the holiday season.

However, it’s not all bad news if you prefer plastic over pine! Artificial trees have their benefits too. Plastic trees help keep forests intact and can be used for several seasons. Reusing allows families to cut down gas use; instead of a drive to a farm, your tree is a quick walk to the garage or attic. However, disposal can be trickier. The artificial tree can take hundreds of years to break down but instead of ditching it for the landfill try donating it instead! Many schools, retirement homes, nursing facilities, senior centers and thrift stores are open to taking older trees as long as they are in good condition.


Huge parts of holiday decorating are the magical lights strung up by the millions during the Christmas season. Upgrade your old heat-producing incandescent lights for new ENERGY STAR-certified string lights this year for an energy-efficient season. Energy Star lights use 75% less energy, are backed with a 3-year warranty, are more durable, and shock resistant than conventional lights! The US Department of Energy estimates that if homeowners switched to LED lights for the holidays, 5.97 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved. That’s enough power to run half a million homes for a year!

  1. Give the Gift of Experience

Browsing through stores during the holidays sometimes feels like déjà vu all over again. You constantly see the same mass-produced items in multiple stores. Prove to your friends how thoughtful you are this holiday season by purchasing unique experiences as gifts! There are so many fun experiences that can be gifted to your loved ones. You can gift them a cooking class, a membership to their favorite dance class, a gift card to the movies, or their favorite restaurant.

Experience gifts don’t require the creation of something new and they give you a chance to support local businesses in your area! Additionally, they will also be a huge hit because it is personal, thoughtful, and creates a memory that lasts a lifetime!

  1. Plan to Avoid Numerous Trips to the Store

With the Holidays comes great food! We’ve all been there in the kitchen getting ready to make those coveted pies, cakes, or cookies. When it hits you. That one missing ingredient you forgot to get at the store yesterday. Dread and frustration fill you as you get in your car and head to the store again for the third time this week.

It never fails. However, there are ways to avoid this dreaded holiday catastrophe! Try sitting down the day before and writing down everything you need. Maybe even start a running list a week before and write down anything that comes to mind right as it pops into your head, so you don’t forget anything! This will help you save time, money, gas, and lots of frustration. Your future self and the environment will thank you!

  1. ENERGY STAR Gifts

For those that just can’t part with tech-related gifts, this one is for you! ENERGY STAR has laptops, dishwashers, refrigerators, air purifiers, smart thermostats, tablets, and more that are perfect for loved ones and home offices! These gifts come with high-tech features, energy efficiency, and save you money. But one thing that really sets them apart is they give the gift of a better environment; they are truly gifts that do a world of good!

  1. Recycled Wrapping

Wrapping paper is an integral part of Christmas day! Who doesn’t love ripping open their presents to solve the mystery of what’s inside? However, wrapping paper accounts for 2.3 million pounds of waste a year!

This year try making your own wrapping paper with recycled items. It’ll make your gifts stand out and let your creativity run wild! You can use old newspapers, magazines, paper bags, or even fabric scraps to create your own unique designs. Accessorize with ribbon, twine, twigs, pinecones, holly, or buttons, the possibilities are endless!

Every small action can have a huge impact and can help change your mindset for thinking green. By using the holidays as a starting point, every day habits can be formed and taken into the new year! If you would like more information on how to make your entire home or office more eco-friendly, visit Sustainable Investment Group (SIG), where energy efficiency can put you on the right path to a greener future.

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