The holiday season is officially upon us. And in these trying times, a little holiday cheer can go a very long way.
While you’re bringing this holiday cheer to your family and friends, how about giving some to the planet as well? Being eco-friendly should be a year-round endeavor, but since the holidays also brings a great deal of excess waste, garbage, and assorted unrecyclables, the job can become much harder during this season. But with a little foresight and a bit of awareness, you can make sure that our world gets some nice presents, too.
Here are some areas in which you can have a positive environmental impact – especially if everyone pitches in and does their share:
Things will be a bit different this year in terms of holiday guests; COVID-19 has seen to that. The numbers of people in homes will be way down, a necessary evil in the fight against the pandemic. However, even with just your own family and possibly a few friends who have been quarantining, you’re going to need a lot of drinking water. Parents are going to get thirsty putting together those impossible-to-assemble toys. Guests indulging in adult beverages should be drinking an equal amount of water. And kids will generally exhaust themselves doing what kids do.
Rather than buying bottled water to meet this need, use a filtered pitcher; it’s one of the best things you can do for the planet. Fast Company notes that around the globe, people are using almost 500 billion plastic water bottles per year; that number is predicted to grow to 580 billion by 2021. Oh, and did we mention that plastic water bottles take about 450 years to decompose? Depending on the type of pitcher you use (our CLEAR2O Gravity Water Filter Pitcher – GRP200 is a great choice), you will not only get a higher level of water quality than the bottled variety provides, you will also be avoiding the plastic waste.
Most mass-produced wrapping paper found in stores is not recyclable because of the shiny coatings, foils and colors, and therefore ends up in landfills. Despite our love affair with wrapping paper, it seems a shame to waste so much water, oil and trees every year solely to produce something that gets torn off and immediately thrown away. (If your dog gets hold of it, it’ll be torn off even sooner.)
Instead, here’s a chance to get creative. Wrap presents with old maps, the comics section of a newspaper, or children’s artwork. Or use a scarf, attractive dish towel, bandana, or some other useful cloth item that is a gift in and of itself or can even be given back to the gift giver for reuse.
You could even go without wrapping your gifts altogether. Hide them around the house and turn the activity into a scavenger hunt. Just make sure your dog doesn’t find them first.
For the travelers among you, an RV excursion may be part of your holiday tradition – either to a family’s home in another state, or simply a trip for some quiet and solitude. The down side is that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are a big contributor to global warming and climate change, and are the second-largest source of emissions in the U.S.
If you do travel for the holidays – especially if you’re going to travel more than 100 miles, whether in an RV or other vehicle - consider counterbalancing the emissions with carbon offsets. In basic terms, a carbon offsetting project is one that offers services to sequester carbon; examples include reforestation and agroforestry projects. It’s important to make sure your funds actually go to these communities and forests. Validated carbon projects have been audited by independent third parties to ensure high-quality, verifiable, carbon offsets. A few companies that can help you get trees planted to reduce your impact include.
- Terrapass– Provides carbon offsets for flying, driving, etc.
- CarbonFund– Provides a variety of carbon offset projects to choose from.
- com– Tree planting for offsetting carbon emissions.
Buy a Real Christmas Tree
Since we just discussed reducing your personal carbon footprint over the holidays, it may seem counterintuitive to suggest cutting down a real Christmas tree. After all, trees are a carbon sink and provide a ton of other benefits, from clean air to water filtration. But keep in mind that Christmas trees are not cut down from virgin forests. Christmas trees are grown on farms, just like other crops. And while they grow on the tree farm, they still do provide those essential carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
Another factor to consider is that fake Christmas trees are made from plastic. This comes with a plethora of environmental and human health problems, from the pollution that springs from the production of the plastic, steel, and brackets in the tree, to the emissions generated from shipping it from another country, to the packaging and resources required to store the tree. Fake Christmas trees are not recyclable, and often end up in landfills.
Remember to also recycle or compost your tree. Don’t let it be taken to a landfill to hang out with all the water bottles.
Give Eco-Friendly GiftsYou can give almost anyone on your holiday list an ecofriendly gift. The Gravity Water Pitcher we mentioned at the beginning of this blog is a wonderful way to avoid the waste of bottled water, either on your RV or your home. Specifically for your RV, our CLEAR2O® RV and Marine Inline Water Filter – CRV2006 will give you the freshest water possible while helping you stay clear of the bottled water issue.
We also love the idea of giving an “experience” rather than a material present. Consider a trip to the zoo, tickets to a sporting event, or a concert. This will avoid wrapping and packaging waste while building a memorable time with family and friends. Of course, with COVID-19 still lurking in the wings, this becomes a much harder item to find, but if you do a little legwork, you can find some offerings that are still available.
The holidays can be a delightful family to enjoy family and friends, while also doing your part to keep the planet healthy. That’s a gift that will keep on giving.