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A Sustainable Holiday Season

by Sarah Clinger

It seems like the entire globe starts to decorate for the holidays earlier and earlier each year. Whether you put up a Christmas tree, Menorah, or a string of bright lights, we can all start to decorate more sustainably. Here are some helpful tips on how to decorate to save the planet, while still being festive. 

Wrap presents in recycled paper 

Everyone loves presents, so why not use recycled materials to wrap them up? Every year, individuals in the United Kingdom throw away 227,000 miles of wrapping paper, and one billion Christmas cards are thrown into the trash instead of being recycled. We can solve this issue by buying reusable bags or buying recycled wrapping paper. 

The cheapest way to go about this is by using old newspapers or paper bags from the grocery store. If you have the extra funds this season, there are many online stores that sell decorated eco-friendly wrapping paper such as Wrappily and Esty.

Rent or Replant your REAL Christmas tree

Millions of people worldwide continue to buy artificial Christmas trees. Not only are these trees harmful to the environment when discarded and produced, they can also have severe impacts on human health. Artificial trees have been linked to asthma, cancers, reproductive harm, and even obesity due to the toxic chemicals and plastics that make up these trees.

To solve the health and environmental issues artificial trees impose, you can rent a real Christmas tree this season, or harvest and replant your own tree! You can rent a tree from Bamschoul Becker, they will even deliver your tree to you, you can buy or rent a tree starting November 22nd. In terms of harvesting your own tree, Bösen is the place to go. They are located right over the border in Germany, and this season the self cutting farms are located in Pellinger, Wittlich, Wawern, Igel, and Temmels. For more information about Bösen, click here.

Food Waste and Buying from the Right Place

It is not just wrapping paper and artificial trees that get wasted during the holiday season. Each year, millions of tons of food is wasted just on Christmas day alone. How can you help alleviate this issue in your own home and community?

Eat or send leftovers home with everyone. If you host a large family gathering for the holidays, send leftovers home with everyone, they will appreciate it more than your trashcan. You can also try to avoid access leftovers in the first place by planning ahead. Simply take a headcount and prepare the correct amount of food. Finally, if you prepare an excess amount of food, you can compost the scraps or donate your unused non-perishables to a local food bank. AMA Luxembourg, Food Sharing Luxembourg, and the Luxembourg Banque Alimentaire are all great options for your donations. 

Buying your holiday groceries from the right place can make all the difference, not just environmentally, but even the taste and quality can be impacted. OUNI is Luxembourg’s first packaging-free organic grocery store. You can purchase fruits and vegetables, bread, dairy products, dry goods, spices, beverages, and they even offer hygiene and cleaning products at OUNI. 

Use Less or LED Christmas Lights 

Whether you want to light up your Christmas tree, or your home, switching to LED lights can make all the difference. Christmas lights contribute to light pollution, this excessive outdoor lighting disrupts ecosystems, washes out the stars, and wastes energy. Regular incandescent lights can also impose harmful effects on human health, such as early development of cataract and age-related macular degeneration. 

LED lights only require 10% of the energy used by regular Christmas lights, you don’t only save energy, you save yourself money as well. You can purchase LED Christmas lights at almost every grocery store during the holiday season! 

Skip the Grocery Store Candles 

If you celebrate Hanukkah or just love to decorate your home with candles for the holidays, try switching to a more eco-friendly option such as beeswax or soy. Regular candles are made with paraffin wax, a by-product of gasoline, which is considered highly unsustainable non-renewable resource. Burning paraffin wax releases dangerous chemicals such as toluene, which can cause insomnia, headaches, confusion, and even liver and kidney damage. 

Switching to soy or beeswax candles can help alleviate health issues, environmental problems, and it can help several small and local businesses here in Luxembourg! We recommend checking out Käerzefabrik, J’adore Bio, or Hymera.

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