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How to Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably in the time of COVID-19

If you’re scrambling for last-minute holiday gifts (like some of us), it can be tempting to give in to Amazon Prime delivery and the holiday deals at big businesses, throw the likely unethically and unsustainably made items in a gift bag, and call it a day. But with economic losses resulting from the pandemic, and continued impacts of climate injustices,it is even more important to shop ethically and sustainably this year.

With transportation accounting for 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by economic sector in 2018, and an increase in package deliveries around the holidays, shopping at local, small-owned businesses with sustainably made or second hand gifts is one of the best ways to resist climate change and stimulate the local economy. If you choose to leave your house for holiday shopping, walking or biking to a small owned business is encouraged. In particular, we’re considering how we can best support small businesses owned by Black folks, Indigenous friends and People of Color. If there’s one thing we took from 2020, it’s that our actions are needed to continue showing up for racial and environmental justice.

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, shopping in person is not considered the safest option for folks. Many small businesses have gotten creative with local delivery and if you have friends or family who will be shopping in person this year, consider reaching out to them to arrange no-contact drop offs from your favorite local shops. If neither of those options are working out, consider getting gifts delivered to your loved ones from small businesses local to them, so you can save on emissions from shipping presents to them from where you are. In these uncertain times, we’re reminded that the health of our communities and the health of the planet are interdependent. Regardless of whether or not you’re leaving your house to get gifts, there are so many other ways to celebrate sustainably this holiday season--and for good reason. The EPA estimates that the American household waste increases by more than 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day for an estimated additional one million tons of wasted food, shopping bags and gift wrap per week! Along with buying items that are ethically and sustainably made, here are additional tips for a more conscious holiday celebration this year:

1) Say no to plastic and paper bags when buying presents

2) Rethink gift wrapping

3) Aim for little to no food waste

4) Get creative for gift giving

5) Gift intentional quality time to your quarantine partners

6) Gift a donation on behalf of a loved one

7) And for last minute gift ideas…

Thanks for caring and reading this post. Individual actions add up and can make an impact reducing carbon emissions contributing to the climate crisis. Happy holidays!