It’s April, and Earth Day is around the corner. There’s no better time than now to plan ahead and explore new ways we can live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle and minimize our carbon footprint. Holidays typically have an even greater impact on the environment. Our usual traditions can often distract us from our everyday efforts to be eco-friendly. The good news is that we have plenty of tips to enjoy your favorite holidays while also respecting Mother Nature!
Ditch the bouquet and flowers, and show your love is lasting with a plant. Though a dozen red roses may seem romantic, their vase life is very short. A potted plant, like a succulent or monstera, not only lasts longer, but it also elevates the aesthetic of any room, making it feel more bright and cozy. There are also several options for loved ones who don’t have a green thumb.
An inconvenient truth is that the floral industry has major negative ramifications on the environment. Just one bouquet of roses and lilies can produce up to 3 kilograms of carbon dioxide! This calculation doesn’t even include transportation from across the world to your local florist, but it’s rather due to greenhouses that require excessive amounts of energy to run. Such greenhouses also use high volumes of pesticides and herbicides that can potentially enter the land’s soil and groundwater, as well as detract pollinators like bees that we depend on for growing our food.
Dyeing eggs is a common pastime for those who celebrate Easter or just love spring colors, but think twice before you toss that egg into the trash after the holiday! Egg shells can serve as natural fertilizer for your soil. Their high levels of calcium carbonate help strengthen plant cell walls, while other minerals like potassium, phosphorus and magnesium can help your plants grow fuller and healthier.
After the holiday, peel the eggs and rinse the shells. After they dry, crush or grind them and mix them into the soil of your flower beds, fruits and vegetable garden, and potted plants. For an extra boost of nitrogen, mix your crushed shells with coffee grounds.
Keep in mind that egg shells also help reduce the acidity of your soil. Avoid fertilizing acid-loving plants like azaleas and violets.
Finally, be mindful of the dye you use for the eggs. There are several eco-friendly dye options that will keep your shells compostable.
Fourth of July
Fireworks are fun but not very good for the environment because they are concentrated with pollutants and discharge harmful chemicals and smoke into our atmosphere. While pretty to look at, every color has its own set of chemical compounds, contributing to high concentrations of particulate matter and volatile organic compounds lingering in the air.
Luckily, biodegradable fireworks are available as alternatives. Some use compressed air instead of gunpowder, while others contain a clean burning, nitrogen-based fuel. Better yet, opt for building a campfire if you want to illuminate your backyard barbecue and skip fireworks altogether.
No Halloween is complete without pumpkins, but many people may not realize that a natural gourd can leave behind a large carbon footprint. In order to grow pumpkins big and fast enough in time for the fall season, many harvests are sprayed with heavy-duty pesticides and fertilizers. They are shipped over long distances, making their carbon footprint exorbitantly high. Before buying your next fresh collection, learn where they are grown and purchase pumpkins from local farms or farmers' markets.
Finally, if you carve your fresh pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, don't throw away all the goodies from inside. Toast the seeds for tasty treats and use the flesh to bake a pumpkin pie or muffins. After the holiday, compost your pumpkins instead of throwing them into the trash.
Christmas and Hanukkah
rapping paper is one of the biggest perpetrators that hurts our environment. The United States alone accumulates more than four million tons of wrapping paper, and December sees the largest consumption of it.
Additionally, there are several types of paper to avoid, including glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper, which are neither recyclable nor compostable. If you can’t find recyclable wrapping paper, there are several alternatives to commercial wrapping paper, such as newspaper, old calendars, maps and paper bags. Also, while it feels gratifying and exciting to rip off wrapping paper on a gift you receive, try to open packages with care and reuse the paper when it’s your turn to give. The same goes for gift bags, ribbons and bows.