Ideas for Eco-Friendly Holidays
By Tiffany Kincaid
No matter how often we hum the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” holiday time in Florida remains green.
But did you know that household waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas? That’s not very “green” at all. Here are some Keep Martin Beautiful tips to reduce your waste footprint:
Wrapping paper alternatives
Traditional wrapping paper is beautiful and festive, but not good for the environment.
- Try using recycled paper or the comics section of a newspaper (if you still get a print version).
- Scarves can be used for wrapping presents and makes a great second gift.
- Glass jars and tote bags are also reusable. Kids (and adults) can decorate plain brown bags---use color, just not glitter!
Although I personally love creative gift wrapping – almost to a fault – you could also opt to not wrap the gift at all. It’s your thought, not the wrapping, that counts.
Decorating for the holidays is fun. This year, think about how to do it with “green” in mind.
- String popcorn and stay away from tinsel.
- Decorate with nature. Collect branches or pinecones – either painted or use them in their natural beauty. Scent your home with spices and herbs and dried citrus instead of cans of scented spray.
- Refurbish old decorations. They may just need a little repair or touchup---or turn them into something else!
- Use LED lights. They use 95% less energy than traditional holiday lights.
- Purchase a live Christmas tree with an attached root ball. When Christmas is over, the tree can be replanted somewhere so it can continue to absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and provide a home for animals. If you must use an artificial Christmas tree, purchase one made from recycled PVC. Using it for at least ten Christmases evens out the carbon footprint over its lifetime compared to buying real trees each year.
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy, even when we know that buying more things is not best for the environment. Here are some eco-friendly ideas for gifts that show our love for friends and family and also the environment. And be sure to bring your own bags when you shop!
- Shop locally. Embrace what makes our community unique. You save the cost and negative environmental impacts of shipping, and you help our friends and neighbors who own businesses to survive and thrive.
- Give experiences, not things. Give the gift of local services like massages, facials, a boat ride, a painting class, tickets to a concert or sporting event.
- Buy things that are recycled. Or items that make recycling unnecessary, like sturdy, high-quality reusable water bottles to replace those single use plastic ones.
- Think “thrifting.” There are many non-profits in town that operate high-quality thrift stores where you can find unique items and decor at good prices and keep more items out of the landfill. And all for a worthy cause. Check out House of Hope’s HOPE Shop, the Humane Society, Treasure Coast Hospice, Hibiscus Treasure House and many other consignment stores for a true “upcycling” experience.
- Give plants. Or an herb or edible garden. Plants are not only decorative and make any room feel cozier, they’re also good for your health by improving air quality and reducing stress. Buying low maintenance plants such as succulents, peace lilies, orchids, ferns and herbs also makes it easy to nurture and build confidence and self-esteem.
- Support a local or global nonprofit by making a donation in someone’s name.
And when it’s time to clean up after the holidays?
- What can be recycled?
- What can be reused? Maybe given a new purpose or kept for next year.
- What can be composted?
- How green are the cleaning products you’re using?
Tis the season to use our imagination and ingenuity to make small changes in how we celebrate. That’s how we can truly go - and stay - Green!
From all of us at, Keep Martin Beautiful we wish you a joyous and eco-friendly holiday!