The signs of a cozy winter season are here – the crisp air, the cozy evenings by the fire, and the serene beauty of snow-covered landscapes. Yet, this annual drop in temperature always comes with increased energy consumption, excessive waste, and environmental damage. The holiday season is one of the worst, most wasteful seasons when it comes to our environment.
We can all do our part to change that reality. Embracing sustainable living during the winter is easier than you might think. This guide will walk you through eco-friendly practices, fun ideas, and alternative choices to make your winter months more environmentally friendly.
Zero Waste Winter
Did you know that the holiday season contributes to an additional 1 million tons of trash each WEEK during the winter? It’s all of our celebratory food, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, and other doodads. It’s a serious problem that we’ve got to address.
The holiday season often involves excessive consumption in the name of generosity. It’s a lovely feeling to give a loved one the perfect present. But what about the environmental impacts of all of that buying, wrapping, and eventual throwing away? The holiday season hasn’t traditionally been built with circularity in mind.
This holiday season, opt for experiential gifts, homemade presents, or gifts that support the environment. We’ve put together several holiday gift guides for everyone on your shopping list. These presents are sustainable, ethical, and are healthier for you and your home than their big-brand alternatives. We make a conscious effort to support brands that are working hard for a better world.
There’s really an abundance of options and opportunities to shop eco-friendly– thousands of eco-friendly and ethical brands offer excellent Christmas or holiday gifts. This winter, avoid big, polluting brands and try something new! You could even consider giving the gift of donations or supporting a cause in someone's name.
DIY Decor and Wrapping
One of our favorite ways to get crafty and sustainable during the holidays is with DIY decorations and gift wrap. Traditional decorations are often made of fossil fuel-derived products like plastic, break easily, and are thrown away the next year. The origins of their manufacturing are also likely unknown. Homemade decorations are cozier, and more fun to make! Create decorations from natural materials like dried oranges, pinecones, dried leaves, or recycled materials.
The same goes for gift wrap! Try using recycled paper, fabric scraps, or even old newspapers to wrap gifts. It can be so fun to gift a present wrapped in a unique way. It’s more memorable and aligns with your sustainable values. Plus, it reduces the waste traditionally associated with the miles and miles of gift wrap used each year.
Composting and Recycling
Winter doesn’t halt composting efforts. Start a winter compost pile using kitchen scraps, yard waste, and organic materials. While the freezing cold temperatures may slow down compost rates, it doesn’t mean it’s time to stop trying! By the time Spring rolls around, you’ll have plenty of compostable material ready to get biodegrading.
While choosing products with minimal packaging is ideal, winter celebrations surely mean extra waste, no matter how hard you try. Reusing, recycling, and repurposing should remain top priorities! Get crafty and creative with old materials that can be repurposed into fun decorations. Don’t forget to sort paper and plastic recycling properly.
Winter Wellness and Nature Connection
Winter depression is no joke. Part of building a more just and sustainable world is also taking better care of ourselves as individuals so that we can be good community members.
Don’t neglect self-care and ignore our essential need as humans to get outside, even though it’s freezing cold! Connecting deeply with nature is one of the most important parts of our connection to sustainability, and it can motivate us to keep our efforts going.
Getting Cozy Sustainably
By making small switches to your daily routine, you can create the ultimate cozy and environmentally-friendly winter haven. How about enjoying a holiday movie marathon while being mindful of energy usage?
When you seek opportunities to enhance your routine holiday festivities, you may be surprised how many chances there are to make sustainable choices.
Mindful Movie Night
- Opt for LED or energy-efficient bulbs.
- Unplug devices not in use.
- Cuddle up with blankets to keep the thermostat a bit lower.
- Opt for blankets made from organic cotton or recycled fibers.
- Watch documentaries to learn something new about the world around us.
- Grab a secondhand book or borrow books from a library.
- Burn sustainably sourced wood or fuel in the fireplace.
- Consider an electric fireplace for a greener alternative.
- Sip some fair-trade hot cocoa or herbal tea in a reusable mug.
- Donate or swap old books to give them a new life.
- E-books and audiobooks can reduce the need for paper, printing, and shipment.
Vegan Holiday Meal
- Learn a new vegan or vegetarian recipe of an old holiday favorite and make it for your family to try.
- Start a conversation about meatless meal alternatives and their impact on emissions.
- Include local or seasonal produce in the meal.
- Plan your menus thoughtfully to minimize any food waste.
- Pack away leftovers in reusable containers for the family to take home.
Embracing Outdoor Activities
Winter's chill offers a chance to embrace winter sports like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. These activities allow us to appreciate the stunning beauty of nature while getting outside and active. It’s important to stay connected to the great outdoors, and spending time in beautiful snowy landscapes is a great way to do it.
This winter, be sure to get outside as much as possible! Leaving no trace and respecting wildlife habitats ensures that we preserve nature's wonders while having fun, too.
Mindful Consumption of Seasonal Foods
By opting for locally sourced, seasonal foods during the winter months, you can actively contribute to reducing carbon emissions associated with food transportation. Embracing the goodness of winter vegetables and fruits in your meals not only nourishes your body with fresh, nutrient-rich produce but also supports local farmers and regional agriculture.
Consider engaging with a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program to access a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Seasonal eating supports the local economy and reduces your carbon footprint. By choosing locally grown produce, you can help foster a more sustainable food system.
Tips to Take into Spring
Energy efficiency and sustainable fabrics aren’t unique to the wintertime. They’re equally as important once the snow starts to melt and the flowers begin to bloom! Consider adopting these habits and building sustainable foundations now, carrying them with you into the Spring.
Energy-Efficient Heating Solutions
Winter’s freezing cold temperatures always drive up energy consumption, primarily through heating. To combat this, homeowners can practice energy-efficient heating solutions to stop excessive electricity use.
Installing programmable thermostats allows homeowners to have precise control over indoor temperatures. This way, you can optimize your energy usage by adjusting settings appropriately. Insulation methods, like incorporating insulated curtains and draft stoppers that minimize heat loss, ensure that warmth stays indoors. Any eco-insulation efforts are great, because they reduce the need for constant heating by preventing energy leaks.
Sick and tired of high winter energy bills? Try using space heaters in your home more selectively, and layering clothing indoors. These can provide added warmth, while decreasing your dependency on expensive central heating systems. Don’t let yourself freeze, of course. Just try wearing fuzzy socks around the house for a change! Reducing your reliance on central heating will lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
Sustainable Winter Fashion
Stay warm sustainably by choosing clothing made from organic, natural fibers like wool, hemp, or organic cotton. There are so many small, sustainable brands that create ethically sourced and manufactured garments to keep you warm this winter.
Try supporting only ethical and eco-conscious brands that prioritize fair labor practices and use eco-friendly dyes and materials. This is one of the best ways to make the overconsumption normally associated with the winter season better for the environment.
Winter is often a time we travel to visit family and friends. This creates an opportunity to embrace eco-conscious travel methods and practices. It’s best to limit unnecessary car journeys and optimize travel plans to reduce fuel usage. First, determine if the trip you’re making is the most logical or necessary. Especially during the hazardous road conditions that winter can bring, put your safety first and evaluate any travel choices.
Next, consider if there is any form of public transit you could use to get from point A to point B. Perhaps a form of transportation that reduces your emissions, such as a train ride? Plane trips tend to be the worst for the environment when it comes to travel. Can you carpool with other family members to a holiday dinner? When it comes to travel, you can get creative to find a more sustainable way that reduces your carbon footprint.
Sustainable travel is a habit you can carry with you beyond the holiday season. When planning future trips and get-togethers, pick the most central location. Consider who can drive together. And always pick the most eco-friendly transit options you have at your disposal! A cozy train ride through the countryside may be just what you need this winter.
A Sustainable Winter
Winter is a great time to practice sustainability, encouraging mindful choices and fostering a deeper connection with nature. Embrace the season by implementing these eco-friendly practices, reducing waste, and enjoying the beauty of winter while minimizing your environmental impact.
By making conscious decisions, you can transform the chilly months into a harmonious time between you and the planet. Small steps collectively can make a significant difference. Let this winter be a season of warmth, joy, and sustainable living for you and the world around you.
For more eco-friendly living ideas and sustainable practices, explore our blog for inspiration and guidance.
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