The magical atmosphere of the New Year is created thanks to the symbols of this holiday: gifts, a Christmas tree, delicious food, decorations, Santa Claus and his reindeer. But we rarely think that we are harming nature during the holiday period – when we buy a lot of unnecessary gifts or a plastic Christmas tree. We offer you ways to celebrate the New Year with minimal harm to the environment.
- Start with the Right Wish List
Preparing for the New Year is primarily about buying gifts. Already at this stage, you can invite friends and family to support the culture of responsible consumption. Don’t add items like “Some shampoo or cream” to your wish list: there is a risk that you will be bought something unnecessary, and it will go to a landfill. It is best to ask your loved ones to chip in for a big and really useful thing that will last for many years. Add to the list a couple of links to the goods you like on the sites for buying from hand, so as not to buy new ones, or ask to make something yourself.
2. Choose your tree wisely
This will be unexpected for many, but the correctly chosen live spruce is much more environmentally friendly than artificial. Analysis by Ecobureau GREENS showed that the production of artificial trees is associated with higher carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions, which ultimately leads to climate change. In addition, a natural tree, unlike plastic, is completely biodegradable.
But everything is not so simple: when buying, it is especially important to find out the source of the tree’s origin, so it is better to buy them at organized bazaars. If you already have artificial spruce, do not throw it away, but use at least 10 seasons to compensate for the total environmental damage from its production.
3. Make your own Christmas tree decorations
Instead of buying new Christmas tree decorations, use materials made from scrap materials – this also helps to reduce CO 2 emissions and non-degradable waste in landfills. For example, you can hang apples, candies, and gingerbread on a tree and then eat them.
Involve children in the creation of toys – they will be delighted. You can paint the cones in bright colors or make paper decorations together: for example, cut snowflakes in the shape of your favorite comic book characters or movie franchises.
4. Don’t cook too much
The speed with which the trash can fills up in the kitchen is sometimes simply amazing – we throw away a huge amount of packaging and often food that we have not had time to consume. Some numbers: according to
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 30% of all produced food products are discarded annually globally.
Each of us can contribute and educate family and friends to use responsibly. To reduce the stress on nature, make a list of products in advance, keeping in mind the number of guests and specific recipes. It is absolutely not necessary to cook 20 types of salads, just one or two – and the food discarded in January will be several times less. In addition, this way, you can reduce the amount of packaging you will throw away anyway.
5. Choose your products carefully
If possible, buy local produce – much less carbon dioxide was emitted into the atmosphere during their transportation. For example, pickled cucumbers for a salad are better to take near Moscow if you live in Moscow, and seaside ones if you live in Vladivostok – and not vice versa.
Give preference to fish since meat production requires a large number of resources: water, energy, feed. When choosing seafood, look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label to ensure that the food is harvested and processed in full compliance with environmental standards. By purchasing a certified product, you support the reproduction of fish stocks.
6. Take advantage of the excuse to develop sustainable habits
The more people do something environmentally friendly for the New Year, the better. To promote a culture of responsible consumption, invite guests to come with unnecessary items instead of gifts – and host an exchange party.
You can also prepare papers with environmental promises in advance, for example: “I promise in 2021 not to use disposable bags when going to the store” or “I promise not to buy coffee in disposable cups, but to carry my own Thermo mug” and the like. Place them in a bag or hat and invite everyone present to draw out a piece of paper and solemnly make a promise.
7. Help those who are lonely or difficult
Nothing brings more joy than the realization that you have brought joy to another. For example, you can take part in various mutual assistance actions and send gifts to a charitable foundation to help the elderly. This year, the action “We are together” was also launched – you can become Santa Claus and, in compliance with all epidemiological standards, congratulate the children of medical workers and not only. And at the beginning of January, in many cities, the action is opened to collect trees for processing – they also need volunteers’ hands. Look online – there are many opportunities to help others with money or participation.