3 Easy Ways to Have a Sustainable Holiday without Sacrificing the Joy of the Season

Cloud Paper Holiday Design Swish Cloths


It’s not a fun fact, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans create the most waste between the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays1. 


We’re not trying to be a Debbie Downer here — but it is helpful to know where your waste is coming from in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle. (That’s why we recommend doing a trash audit in your own home!) 


Here at Cloud Paper, we’re doing all we can to help you lead the type of sustainable lifestyle you strive for. Because protecting our planet is well worth a few changes to our routine. 

That said, going green doesn’t mean you have to be a Grinch!

There are plenty of ways to celebrate a joyful holiday season without falling prey to the wasteful ways of the past. 


How? Let’s get into it. Here are three ways to have a more sustainable holiday while still enjoying the spirit of the season. 

#1) Stick to Sustainable Holiday Decor

You might be thinking that a sustainable holiday means minimal decorations and zero gifts. But while it’s true that minimalism lends itself to the zero-waste lifestyle, you don’t have to say goodbye to the twinkling lights just yet. 


Sustainable holiday decor isn’t that hard to come by if you know where to look. 

The Most Sustainable Holiday Decor Is What You Already Have.

Keep in mind, even if your decorations are full of plastic and not made to last, you don’t need to dump them in the bin to go buy more products labeled as eco-friendly decorations. One of the most basic principles of a sustainable lifestyle is to use what you already have and reduce what you buy. 


Dig out those old attic boxes or raid your parents’ or grandparents’. Chances are, your family already has more than they actually use.  


Now, if you do need more decorations…

Shop Secondhand or Go for an Eco-Chic Vibe. 

Thrift shops and garage sales are full of holiday decorations, and as the second of the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), reusing someone else’s items makes for inherently sustainable holiday decor. 


Another place to look for decorations is in nature! Consider a traditional wreath made of pine boughs, winter berries, and maybe some pinecones. Take a walk in the park and see what you can find to decorate your home knowing that it can all go in the compost when it’s over. 


Remember: It’s important to compost biodegradable materials rather than send them to the landfill, because at the landfill they produce significantly more methane


If you want to make lots of boughs and natural garland, check with your local Christmas tree provider. Oftentimes they must cut off the lower branches in order for the trunk to fit in a tree stand, and all those extra branches are just waste! They’ll usually let you take them for free since they will otherwise go to a burn pile. 


Finally, if you’re celebrating Christmas, there’s the tree itself. 


Ahhh, the great debate: Which is more eco-friendly — a real tree or a fake? 


For more on this, check out last year's blog where we go in depth and suggest several alternatives you might not even know are options! 


Next up… what to put under the tree. 

#2) Choose Eco Friendly Holiday Cards and Gifts


Cloud Paper digital gift card


Whether you’re a big fan of traditional holiday cards, or you just love the way it feels to unwrap a present, we aren’t here to tell you the only way to have a sustainable holiday is to send e-cards and skip the wrapping paper. 


You’ve probably heard those tips, and while they may help some, we want you to know those aren’t your only options. So here are a few ways to gift a little greener this holiday season.

Choose Tree-Free Holiday Cards

You know how we feel about trees here at Cloud Paper (#SaveTheTrees)! So even though we’re not going to ask you to give up holiday cards, we are going to ask that you consider the source. 


Look for cards made with recycled paper or seed paper (which can be planted and grown into beautiful flowers — a gift that keeps on giving)! 


By avoiding cards made with virgin paper (read: fresh from the factory/never been recycled), you help preserve old growth forests. 

Give Eco-Conscious Gifts

There’s nothing more special than a gift from the heart — except maybe a gift that comes from the heart AND saves the planet. 😁 


Get creative and give it some thought. Chances are you can find something the recipient will love that is also sustainable. Consider:


  • Give an experience: Experiences make wonderful gifts, especially if you can do them together. They’re exciting to receive and then you even have something to look forward to after receiving the gift! Plus you can often support a local business in the process. 
        • Tickets to a sporting event, concert, or play
        • Gift card to a dance studio, arcade, or climbing gym
        • Take them out for laser tag, or do an escape room together
        • Grab them a Groupon to a painting class, or a massage
  • Make homemade gifts: When you make homemade gifts you can purchase the ingredients in a sustainable way (like from a refillery or bulk section!) and they really mean a lot to the recipient. Consider trying your hand at: 
        • Salt scrubs or bath bombs
        • Candles or potpourri sachets
        • Body butter or facial mask
        • Picture frames or cutting boards
  • Give consumables: Rather than giving nicknacks you’re not sure they’ll like, or clothes that might not fit, consider giving consumable items you know they’ll be able to use up. That way you’re not contributing to their own after-holiday waste. Plus if you give them something sustainable and they end up loving it, you could influence them to live a more waste-free lifestyle as well!
  • Cloud Paper individual tp rolls

    Finally, Don’t Forget about the Gift Wrapping

    Like we said, we’re not going to ask you to give up gift wrapping. Although reusables like totes or gift bags are more eco-friendly, we understand the simple joy of unwrapping a present. 


    That said, there are more eco-friendly ways to do it than grabbing that giant roll of glossy paper from Costco. 


    First: consider what you already have on hand. If you have newspapers or magazines, those can make for fun wrapping designs. The comics section is great for kids' presents. 


    Consider saving the brown packing paper you often get from online orders and tie a twine bow on top for a classically chic look. 


    If you cannot give up traditional wrapping paper, choose a matte finish paper and recycle it afterwards. (Many glossy papers aren’t recyclable!)


    Finally, no holiday is complete without friends and family. And if you’re traveling to visit people this season, that may be the biggest sustainable impact you can have. 

    #3) Travel Eco-Consciously

    The holiday season is known as a peak traveling time. Plane ticket prices skyrocket, gas goes up, and you know the traffic will be bad. But — as we all learned over the past few years — the holidays just aren’t the same without our loved ones. 


    So you pack up your bags and make the trek… because in the end, it’s worth it.


    Traveling, however, is likely one of the most carbon costly activities you’ll do around the holidays, especially if you’re traveling long-distance. 


    There are four basic principles to save on travel emissions:

    1. Utilize public transportation
    2. Carpool if you can
    3. Drive rather than fly
    4. Consider carbon offsetting 

    Maybe it means you have to wait until your cousin gets off at 5pm and you’ll hit more traffic… but if it saves you from taking two cars several hundred miles, the emissions savings are worth the inconvenience.


    And when it comes to flying… well until they come out with hybrid planes you’re better off driving whenever possible. 


    If you can’t avoid traveling but want to have a sustainable holiday, consider carbon offsetting your trip! Using a tool like CarbonFund’s Air Travel Offsets, you can help support carbon reducing projects when you fly. 

    And — Don’t Forget to Slow Down and Savor the Moment

    It may sound cheesy, but truly the best way to enjoy the holiday spirit is to slow down, take it all in, and savor those moments with friends and family.


    Take a walk or a hike together, play a game, and remember that the holidays aren’t about the material things we exchange. 


    We at Cloud Paper wish you a wonderful, sustainable holiday season! 


    Oh and, don’t forget to stock up on tree-free toilet paper before all those guests arrive! 


    1. CNN | Dreaming of a Trashy Christmas