Exploring the environmental impacts of the holiday season


Courtesy of pebblemag.com

To help the environment, you can use more eco-friendly materials, such as newspaper, to wrap your holiday gifts this year.

The holiday season is a time filled with cheer and kindness to others all around; however, this time may not be as kind to the environment. While it’s important to stay environmentally conscious all year round, we must be especially mindful during the holiday season, which regularly produces mass amounts of garbage and energy waste. Even with all the waste the holiday season produces, there are ways to combat it and celebrate the holidays in a more environmentally friendly way.

Undoubtedly, a big part of the holiday season is gift-giving. However, all the wrapping paper used for those gifts impacts the environment negatively. According to the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), approximately 500,000 trees are cut down each year to make wrapping paper. Furthermore, because wrapping paper is usually combined with glitter, tape, and plastic, it’s nearly impossible to recycle. The glitter in wrapping paper often makes its way into the ocean, where it can get eaten by marine animals. Some ways to wrap gifts in a more earth-friendly way includes wrapping them with newspaper, wrapping them with non-acrylic or non-polyester fabric, using twine or washi tape (which is made from bamboo, hemp, or biodegradable materials) instead of sellotape, or simply reusing bags from previous gifts (if you were to buy a bag, one made from cardboard is a good choice).

Furthermore, while driving around and seeing all the holiday decorations and lights is always a lovely way to spend a winter night, all the lights can negatively affect the Earth. The US Department of Energy states that all those lights use over six TW (TW stands for terawatts, six terawatts equals six trillion watts). This energy equals the monthly energy use of nearly 500,000 houses, and the Energy Saving Trust states that the amount of carbon dioxide produced by Christmas lights each year would be enough to blow up 15,000 hot air balloons. A good substitute for regular T1 light bulbs is using LED light bulbs since they are inexpensive, safe to use, long-lasting, and don’t use as much energy.

While there are more ways to be more environmentally conscious during the holiday time, simply implementing the small changes discussed can make a big impact. The changes we make in our lives will help create a cleaner and healthier planet for us to live in. Also, keep in mind that these changes are not only to be used for the holiday season, because we give gifts and use lights all the time! Small adjustments like these will make a big difference, we all just need to work together to make it.