How to Green Your Holidays

Christmas is upon us and with the joy and celebrations come the piles of torn wrapping paper, mounds of food waste, busted string lights,and other stresses that will make Mother Nature shout “Bah humbug!”. But it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s possible to celebrate Christmas without creating a trash pile for Santa’s elves.

  • Collect your coffee (and planner stickers) in a For Here mug or your own reusable tumbler. 

How many coffees do you need to buy to get a free planner? How many thousands of people want the same planner you do? Multiply the two and you have an idea how many paper cups are thrown in landfills just this Christmas season to get that free planner. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Bring your own mug and save the planet. As a bonus, many coffee shops (both chain and independent) give you a discount for bringing your own mug. Chances are, by the time you collect enough stickers for that planner, you’d have saved enough from the cup discount to buy yourself a bonus coffee.

  • Unplug your Christmas lights before you go to sleep.

If you’ve had your Christmas lights installed since November 1st, you’re probably already feeling the monetary pinch from keeping them running all the time. Remember to unplug your lights before you go to sleep. Anyway, no one’s awake to appreciate them. If you can, invest in LED lights too. While they cost more in the beginning, they also last longer and are safer to use.

Christmas Spirit

  • Unplug appliances before you leave town.

Appliances left plugged in still use electricity – often called “phantom energy” – so unplug them when not in use, and especially when you’re about to leave on a long trip.

genius invention: why didn't I think of this?

  • Say no to food waste.

Food waste – whether it’s the waste from food preparation (think peelings) or waste from your plate – almost always also ends up in landfills. Once there, they decompose without air and produce methane.  Methane is an even worse greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide, trapping 28 to 36 times more heat compared to CO2.

Reduce food waste by planning properly so that there are no leftovers. If there are leftovers, give them away or eat them right away before they spoil.

Compost the food prep waste. If you have even a small garden, you can compost at home using the Bokashi method. If you need to compost food waste from a large party (your company party maybe?), consider hiring a composting service like Green Space.

The aftermath 3

  • Go for greener gifting.

Everybody loves gifts. We love getting them and we love giving them (to people we actually like). But to soften the blow to the environment and avoid all the messy post-unwrapping cleanup, consider:

  • Gifts that don’t need to be wrapped, like tickets to concerts or classes and store gift certificates. One of my friends gave me gift certificate for classes with Writer’s Block Philippines and it’s one of my favorite things ever.
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  • Gifts that keep on giving, like donations to charity on behalf of your recipient
  • Buying gifts from environmentally and socially conscious SMEs. Buying locally made items from local companies supports more jobs and keeps the money inside our economy. Last year, I gave away bottles of tea concentrate from Bayani Brew. The tea leaves come from small Filipino farmers who are paid fairly, the price is right, and the tea itself is damned good. I’m also a big fan of SGD Coffee, who buys their beans directly from small farmers in Sagada,
  • Placing gifts in reusable gift bags. I save all the paper gift bags from the previous Christmas so I can reuse them for the next year. If you don’t like paper gift bags, maybe you can learn the art of furoshiki instead.

For this year’s gifts, I’ve gone for the following:

  • Bath and Home Care gift sets from Messy Bessy for the family titos and titas. Messy Bessy’s corporate gift guide, Christmas catalog, and regular catalog are available for download:

Messy Bessy Corporate Gift Guide 2018

Messy Bessy CATALOG 2018

They offer free shipping within Metro Manila for orders worth at least Php 5,000. If you’re getting items from the regular catalog, they offer 5% discount and free shipping for orders worth at least Php 5,000.

  • Baby-safe liquid laundry detergent from Messy Bessy for my brother and sister-in-law (and super cute niece)
  • Books from Adarna House and Tahanan Books for my inaanaks. Support local authors and publishers!
  • Homemade goodies for my friends and cousins. Yes, they are my (unwilling) test subjects for my baking.

 Merry Christmas everyone!

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