Home Sweet Home
Most Harvard students, faculty, and staff will be home this holiday season making it all the more important to ensure your home isn’t wasting valuable resources. Be sure to turn off lights when you leave the room, and computer equipment and electronics at the end of the day. Turn power strips to off and unplug devices from their outlets when not in use. Also, make sure all of your windows are shut and window treatments are closed to keep cold air out.
- Shop Local. Try the local shops for unique gifts. It will save you “shopping miles” and support the local economy. Bonus Tip: Bring reusable bags with you to reduce plastic bag consumption. Keep forgetting your bags? Ask the first store you go to for a large bag and as you make your shopping rounds consolidate all your purchases into that one bag.
- Shop Small. Instead of getting a bunch of new “stuff” consider giving family and friends the gift of a new experience! Gift certificates for spa services, restaurants, and even auto repair services make great gifts, support local businesses, and can be used post-pandemic. As do memberships! Bonus Tip: A CSA share for the upcoming growing season is an excellent family gift idea!
- Don’t Shop at All! A nice homemade gift will be cherished much more and longer than anything from a store. Additionally, offering your time to someone busy or donating to a charity in someone’s name is a gift that keeps on giving. Homemade ornaments, crafty picture frames, homemade soap, even digital options like an intangible, but still meaningful digital photobook, music mix list, or a video complimation make great gifts.
- Sustainable gift ideas. Plantable colored pencils, blooming lolipops, compostable tooth bruses and tooth paste bits, silicone straws, reusable storage bags, or give a donation in honor of a loved one to an environmentally-friendly non-profit.
Less waste, same holiday cheer
Shop online to save fuel consumption. Do not subscribe to holiday gift catalogues. Bring your own resuable tote when shopping in stores. Look for gifts with minimal packaging. Use recycled-content wrapping supplies (or skip the wrapping altogether for a sleeker gift giving look.) If you send physical cards, send cards that are paper (recyclable) not plastic (trash.) Post the unwrapping frenzy… be sure to recycle all paper and cardboard, reuse empty chocolate and candy tins, and donate your old items and unwanted gifts.
Festive, fun, and food
- Green your tree: Get a pesticide-free tree. Purchase a plantable tree that can be placed in the ground after the festivities are over. Find a local or city program that turns trees into mulch or wood chips.
- Have a local-vore holiday feast! Hit up your farmers' markets, organic stores, co-ops, and your own garden for all the fixings for your holiday dinner. Compost food scraps and out-dated leftovers.
- Avoid disposables in the kitchen. Use real dishes and silverware. Switch to recyclable aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap to store leftovers.
- Decorate with LED stringed lights. These lights only use around four watts per strand. A regular strand uses about 34 watts per strand.