While living a more sustainable lifestyle is a great goal to have when thinking ahead to resolutions for 2024, holiday celebrations present a special opportunity to ring in the season with a more modest footprint. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s alone, waste production jumps 25%, adding an extra one million tons of waste to landfills each week.
Though that may come as a shock, there are many ways to combat unnecessary waste and help keep the festive spirit alive. The more people that work to save energy and resources during the most wasteful time of year, the bigger the impact that can be made. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make going green a new treasured holiday tradition:
- Think Globally. Buy Locally. – Whether you’re heading to the mall or local family-owned shop for last minute gift shopping, remember the less you have to drive, the better for the environment. Additionally, if you’re planning to host a festive holiday feast this year, consider shopping for sustainable produce from your local farmers. Not only does local organic food taste better, but you’ll also be doing your part for the community and the planet. Likewise, consider swapping out disposable plates, cups, napkins and silverware for your favorite set of dishes this year instead to take green dining one step further.
- Travel Sustainably – Greener holiday travel starts before even leaving the house. The more weight trains, planes and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use, and the more harmful greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. So, be conscious of how many extra items overall you are packing to lighten the load and help keep the air quality in healthy ranges. If you’re traveling to visit family by your own personal vehicle, routine maintenance steps like checking engine performance and keeping tires properly inflated are ideal ways to help reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Traveling by bus or train are also great options that can offer a certain level of convenience, particularly if the weather and roads are bad along your route.
- Properly Dispose of Your Tree – If your holiday includes a tree, and you opt for an artificial one, box it up once the season is over and save it for years to come. When you finally need to get rid of it, do your best to recycle or donate it to help avoid the hazardous landfill. For real trees that still have the root ball attached, consider re-planting it in your yard after the holidays; otherwise, dispose of the tree at a composting or chipping facility in your neighborhood to do your share for cleaner air. St. Louis City residents can take their bare holiday tree to one of three, self-service drop off locations (Forest Park, O’Fallon Park and Carondelet Park) to be recycled December 26th through January 9th.
A few small changes to go green for the holidays can make all the difference in helping people across the region breathe easier. To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.