Celebrating Sustainably this Holiday Season

Celebrating Sustainably this Holiday Season

As the winter season brings us into December, Columbia families and friends come together, exchange gifts, and celebrate cherished holiday traditions. As residents come together for celebrations throughout the season, it’s also important to continue care for our community in more way than one. This time of year can be accompanied by a heavier environmental impact, so keeping in sustainability in mind throughout the holidays can help ensure that the holidays remain merry, bright, and resilient in Columbia’s future.

Holidays bring lots of fun: celebrations with family, friends, or coworkers can bring parties, gift exchanges, extravagant meals, and increased travel to visit family or friends. But without proper attention, these festivities can also increase our impact on the environment through increased energy use, heightened waste generation from food or gifts, and more frequent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from travel and shipping. However, making greener choices during the holidays doesn’t mean sacrificing any of the fun or festivities – just keeping sustainability in mind can help you decrease your personal impact in ways that are both easy and fun!

  • Mindful Gifting: Purchasing cheap-but-trendy goods like “fast fashion” items can lead to increased emissions from both production of the items and the waste creation of quickly disposed gifts. Consider being intentionally sustainable with your gift purchases, looking for locally made or fair-trade products that support local artisans and limit negative impacts and waste.
  • Mind the Thermostat: Energy consumption is already higher during colder months – to save energy (and money on your utility bill!), try turning the thermostat down while you’re out of the house or leaving town during the holidays. For an extra-green holiday gift, check out Columbia’s incentives for electric, energy-efficient heat pumps to replace older, inefficient furnace heaters.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Encourage recycling by setting up designated bins for recyclables at your holiday gatherings. Reducing food waste is another vital step. Try to match meal sizes to your gathering size to limit waste creation, and if you have leftovers, consider donating excess food to local shelters or composting it.
  • Eco-conscious Travel: If your holiday plans involve travel, consider carpooling, public transportation, or using a ride-sharing service. Reducing single-occupancy car travel can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Sustainable Wrapping: Swap traditional wrapping paper for reusable alternatives like cloth, scarves, or newspaper. Encourage recipients to reuse the wrapping, thus reducing waste.

During the holiday season, Columbia helps residents have greener, easier holiday seasons with our Christmas tree recycling program. You may recycle your natural tree at either of the Yard Waste Drop-off Centers: Parkside Drive or Capen Park – just make sure all lights, decorations, and tree stands have been removed. Trees brought through the program are shredded into mulch and used in our City’s Compost Operation, and remaining mulch is offered to residents for landscaping or backyard composting. 

Residents can also bring their trees directly to the City’s Compost Operation at 5700 Peabody Road (near the Landfill). Trees and yard waste can be brought to these locations at any time in the year to participate in the Compost Operation, and the program is always free of charge.