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by Paige Miller

Kitcschy decorative candles. Stuffed animals. Cheap plastic toys. These are just a few common holiday gifts that may be headed to the landfill in a few months when it’s time to de-clutter for spring cleaning.

It’s no secret that consumption goes through the roof during the holidays. So this month, instead of sharing career advice, I thought I’d share some ideas about ways we can enjoy time with our friends and family during the holidays in a way that is a lighter impact on the environment.

While I may be preaching to the choir here, perhaps the most powerful thing we can all do when we head home for the holidays is to lead by example and start a conversation with our friends and family about the issues that we care about.

Lead by example 

  • Reduce waste and consider giving experiences instead of things. Think: an outing to your local ice skating rink, cooking lessons, concert tickets, or a homemade meal. Here’s an awesome list of experiences you can give.
  • If you do want to get friends and family something, make it a goal to give items that they actually need. Then, wrap your gifts in an eco-friendly way.
  • Throwing a holiday party? Make it zero waste.
  • Help your family recycle (and compost, if it’s an option) as much as possible.

Start a conversation 

  • Does your family want to get a new artificial tree this year?
  • Make the case for an alternative.
  • Check out these tips to prepare yourself in case you end up talking climate change at a holiday party (or to your uncle at the family dinner table).
  • Share some good or interesting environmental news (like this!)
  • Make a green New Year’s resolution, and be ready to share it. Mine is to use no disposable coffee cups for all of 2015 – wish me luck!

One final thought to keep in mind is that environmental behavior can be contagious. So even if it’s just you recycling all of that holiday wrapping paper, or bringing your own mug with you, you’re helping make these actions part of the social norm, and over time this can make a big difference.

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