Green Holidays Challenge: A Season of Sustainable Celebrations

Green Holidays Challenge: A Season of Sustainable Celebrations

As the holiday season unfolds, starting with the warmth of Thanksgiving and culminating in the cheer of New Year’s, we often find ourselves wrapped up in traditions that, while dear, can leave a hefty footprint on our planet. This year, our team invites you to join our Green Holidays Challenge, a journey of mindful celebration that spans from the last Thursday of November to the first toast of January. Together, we can redefine the festive season to be as kind to the earth as it is joyful for us.

 Photo credit: iStock.com/Gargonia

Photo credit: iStock.com/Gargonia

Week of 11/20: Mindful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving sets the stage for our holiday spirit, and what better way to give thanks than by honoring the earth that sustains us? This week, make it your mission to create a meal that’s as sustainable as it is delicious. Opt for organic produce from Santa Barbara’s local farmers’ markets, which supports our community’s farmers and reduces carbon emissions from transportation. Embrace leftovers with creative recipes to minimize waste; utilize vegetable scraps for stocks and compost the unneeded to turn potential waste into garden gold. This blog will help you dive deeper into sustainable Thanksgiving traditions. If you plan on printing and mailing Holiday cards, consider designing and ordering from Paper Culture, which offers 100% recycled paper options.

Week of 11/27: Eco-Friendly Decorating

As we deck the halls, let’s do so sustainably. This week, we challenge you to leave plastic behind and select decorations that give back to the Earth. Get the whole family involved in creating natural wreaths from locally sourced greenery, garlands from fallen branches and leaves, and crafting homemade ornaments from upcycled materials. Explore Ecology will host a succulent mini wreaths and ornament workshop on Friday, December 8 at 6:00 PM in the Art From Scrap shop. Learn more and get your tickets here. You can also challenge yourself to light up your home with fewer strings of lights, and when you do, make sure they’re LEDs. If you’re crafty, consider making your own beeswax or soy candles for a cozy and natural ambiance, you can follow an easy DYI here.

Week of 12/4: Conscious Shopping

Gift-giving is a language of love, but it doesn’t have to speak volumes in waste. Challenge yourself to give thoughtfully this week. Choose gifts that support local artisans; Sunkissed Pantry in Santa Barbara offers zero-waste essentials and gift ideas for everyone, including our furry friends. Our Eco-Living Guide also contains a variety of sustainable gifts. You can even opt for experiences over physical items such as music lessons, a massage, or tickets to a sporting event. If you have to shop online, batch orders to minimize shipping impacts, and seek out companies with sustainable shipping practices. When wrapping presents, get inventive with materials you already have—old maps, newspapers, or fabric can wrap a gift just as beautifully as traditional paper. You can read this blog for a creative wrapping guide, complete with tips on making your presents stand out with a personal touch, without the environmental cost.

 Photo credit: iStock.com/Mila Naumova

Photo credit: iStock.com/Mila Naumova

Week of 12/11: Green Gift Giving

Continuing the spirit of mindful gifting, consider the longevity and lifecycle of what you give. A hand-painted pot with a succulent inside, a kit for starting an herb garden, or a collection of thrifted treasures can tell a story and encourage sustainable living. Offer the gift of knowledge with books on environmental topics or cookbooks for plant-based cuisine. If you’re a plant parent, propagate cuttings from your favorite houseplants to share as living gifts. For those who love to craft, homemade gifts like knitted scarves or handcrafted jewelry can add personal warmth to the holidays. In Santa Barbara, Art From Scrap holds many supplies to get as creative as you’d like with your crafts.

Week of 12/18: Low-Impact Celebrations

Holiday gatherings are the heart of the season, and this week we turn our attention to not only how we celebrate but also how we reach our festive destinations. For your holiday get-together, consider plant-based dishes that leave a lighter footprint and opt for digital invitations to save paper. When it comes to travel, carpooling with family or friends reduces emissions. For those staying local, Santa Barbara offers beautiful staycation opportunities that can make your holiday both exciting and eco-friendly. And remember, the best celebrations are those that leave the smallest footprint, so provide your guests with clearly marked bins for recycling and composting.

Week of 12/25: Energy-Saving New Year

As we count down to the New Year, let’s also count down our energy consumption. Make the switch to LED or solar-powered holiday lights, and commit to turning them off when not in use. If you plan a cozy evening celebrating the New Year, don’t forget to uses candles for ambiance. Bonus – it will reduce your energy consumption!

 Photo credit: iStock.com/jacoblund

Photo credit: iStock.com/jacoblund

Post-Holiday Actions

The end of the holiday season doesn’t mean the end of our sustainability efforts. Post-holiday, we focus on renewing and recycling. Christmas trees, once decorated with lights and ornaments, can be mulched and returned to the earth. In Santa Barbara, trees will be collected free of charge after the holidays. To have your tree recycled please remove all stands, lights, and ornaments, and cut trees that are over 6 feet in length. You can bring it to the curbside on your green waste or trash collection day. You can also drop off your tree at MarBorg’s facility located at 119 North Quarantina Street in Santa Barbara or at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station (free through January 12th), located at 4430 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. For all those holiday cards and wrapping paper, you can refer to our recycling guide if you would like to dispose of anything, or consider keeping and reusing items such as paper, ribbons, and bags. Let’s ensure that our holiday season is circular, where every end is a new beginning.

The Green Holidays Challenge is more than a series of tasks—it’s a step toward a future where every celebration is mindful of our planet. Are you ready to make a difference this holiday season? Join the Green Holidays Challenge and let’s embark on a sustainable holiday journey. Together, we’ll create new traditions that will keep our holidays merry, bright, and beautifully green.