Posted by Taylor at Arbor Teas on December 02, 2010
As an environmentally conscious consumer, it can be tough to reconcile the material excess of the holiday season with one’s concern for the planet. But how do you cut down on your environmental impact without sacrificing the joys of the season? It’s easier than you think, actually. Aside from sticking with gifts that are inherently more Earth-friendly (such as organic, recycled/recyclable, carbon-offset, etc.), here are some ideas to get you started:
Carpool and Minimize/Consolidate Trips
So you’ve decided to go to the mall - a popular activity this time of year! More than likely, your friends and neighbors need to do a little shopping too, so why not team up and carpool? They may even have gift ideas that you hadn’t considered. But if you already know what you’re going to buy, be sure to plan your route to minimize unnecessary, gas-wasting travel.
Bring Your Own Bag
This is also pretty familiar to many, and applies just as much to holiday shopping as grocery shopping. Reusable bags and totes are all the rage these days, because they cut down on waste from plastic shopping bags. There’s also something kind of satisfying about walking into a store with empty bags, and walking out with bags bursting at their seams!
Reusable Gift Bags
Gift bags are a better alternative to wrapping paper because they can be reused again and again with minimal waste. They also allow you to easily ‘wrap’ multiple gifts at the same time, thereby reducing the total quantity of wrapping material that you use! If you have to purchase new bags, try to buy gift bags made from recycled materials.
Tree-less Gift Wrapping
If you haven’t been saving your wrapping paper for re-use (save bows and ribbons too, they can be used several times at the very least), then you may find yourself buying wrapping paper. But just because you’re buying wrapping paper doesn’t mean that you can’t get eco-friendly or tree-less papers! There are a bundle of companies that produce wrapping paper from 100% post-consumer content and even a few that make wrapping paper out of unexpected things, like banana peels. Also, consider other less conventional wrappings, like newspapers (if those even still exist in your community!), and cloth or other colorful textiles.
Scrutinize Your Online Shopping
This may be a surprise coming from an online retailer, but a recent UK report suggested that buying online may not be reducing your carbon footprint, but rather, increasing it! Here's the idea: unless you’re ordering a bunch of stuff from the same place, all those different packages need to be trucked and/or flown to a bunch of different places before they head to your doorstep. And if you need to return something and have it re-shipped to you, then you’ve basically just tripled your carbon emissions! But fear not: Arbor Teas carbon-offsets our entire business operation, including all product shipping through the entire supply chain (from origin to us, and us to the customer). Read more about how we’ve made our entire operation the greenest possible.
Additionally, if you’ve decided to order online, consult with your friends about combining orders! If it all comes in one box, it lowers the amount of fossil fuel emissions and packaging waste used in shipping.
We hope you've found these tips helpful. Now you should be ready to take the holiday shopping season by storm! Think of anything we've missed? Leave your idea in a comment below! We'd love you to add your two cents to make this the best, most complete compilation of green shopping strategies it can be.