4 easy ways to make your holidays more eco-friendly

From Christmas tree rentals to reusable gift wrap, these tips will help you celebrate the festivities—and the planet.

Green the greenery

Each Christmas, revelers glorify live trees. But later, millions of firs, pines, and spruces end up decomposing in dumps, releasing methane into the environment. Now some green-thumbed companies are renting out trees, which they tend the rest of the year. If you prefer to buy, look for local growers with advice on where to recycle. To complete the natural look, make ornaments from collected and dried foliage.

Go for a healthy glow

Whether illuminating the menorah during Hanukkah, the kinara during Kwanzaa, or tea lights during Diwali, consider how the candles are created. They are often manufactured with paraffin wax, a petroleum-based fossil fuel. Affordable and cleaner alternatives include those made with soy, ethical beeswax, and coconut wax. Using artificial lights? LEDs are eco-friendly.

Save on gift wrap

Some 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper go to landfills every year, according to recycling database Earth911.com. The Japanese tradition of furoshiki, swaddling gifts in reusable squares of cloth, is a festive form of packaging that doesn’t compromise forests. Simpler still: Wrap with brown paper grocery bags.

Watch the waste

Holiday traditions often include tables laden with tasty fare. But a third of the food produced for human consumption each year goes to waste, the UN World Food Programme reports. Instead of throwing away the excess, find groups that redistribute it at epa.gov by searching for “reduce wasted food.” What’s no longer edible might be compostable.

This story appears in the November 2022 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Read This Next

Is your favorite ‘green’ product really eco-friendly?
Why Noah’s Ark will never be found
The 10 best compact cameras, according to Nat Geo

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet