Exploring The Environmental Impact Of Our Holiday CelebrationsWaste and pollution can be especially troublesome this time of year. Photo by Hristo Rusev/Getty Images
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You probably already understand that a wide range of human behavior contributes to the world’s environmental problems. But have you stopped to think about how your holiday traditions could be exacerbating the issue?
To be clear, this is not an effort to get people to stop celebrating the holidays. It’s my favorite time of the year, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. But if you understand the impact of your behavior, you can make more responsible choices.
Cutting back on waste
There are many ways that holiday festivities can add to the amount of waste that ultimately ends up in landfills or otherwise pollutes the environment. Here are a few areas where you might consider your own behavior in an effort to eliminate unnecessary waste.
- Gifts: Be strategic about what you buy for others since unwanted gifts often end up in landfills. Also, if you receive something you don’t want, try to recycle it or find a positive use for it elsewhere.
- Decorations: Artificial Christmas trees are notoriously difficult to recycle and items like cards and wrapping paper often get tossed in the trash. Think about using a real tree, which can be replanted or composted after the holidays, and digital gift cards that don’t add to the world’s trash problem.
- Food: Wasted food makes up a huge percentage of the refuse in any landfill and producing holiday meals can result in a massive amount of carbon emissions. Consider cutting back on the amount you prepare — and while you’re at it, ditch the disposable plates and flatware in favor of reusable options.
- Travel: If you don’t have to travel long distances during the holidays, think about staying close to home. If transportation is a necessity, think about taking a bus or another more environmentally friendly mode.