Sustainable Holidays


Most people view the holiday season as a joyful and fun time. What if it could also be seen as sustainable? The average amount of electricity needed to light a Christmas tree is about the same as it takes to power a 55 inch flat screen TV. To decorate the outside of a house with string lights, the average amount of energy used is 10,000 watts. It costs the same amount as to heat a 1500 square foot house. Every Christmas season, over 25 million trees are grown, cut and sold to American families. These statistics are startling, but they are not the only aspects of the festivities that have an impact on the environment. Wrapping paper, new products, holiday cards and more have a greater impact than many people realize. This holiday season doesn’t have to have the same negative environmental impact though. There are many ways to have a more sustainable celebration.

Christmas trees are a tradition in many families and are customarily decorated and then burned, thrown away or disposed of in forests or bodies of water. Artificial trees are always a good, reusable option. For families wanting an authentic Christmas tree, purchasing trees grown in a healthy and eco-friendly environment is important. One company also found a way to make living trees a part of the custom. By delivering trees with the roots attached, after use the tree can then be replanted rather than chopped or thrown away.

Using LED Christmas lights not only saves users a lot of money but also uses much less energy. Putting lights on a timer rather than leaving them on and using less or no Christmas lights are also a great options.

Reusing paper and bags as a substitute of wrapping paper is an easy way to have an impact environmentally. “If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields” There are so many creative ways to reuse potato chip bags, old t-shirts, newspaper and maps to wrap gifts.

By informing and being aware eco-friendly options for holiday cards, wrapping paper, lights, trees and gifts, the holiday season can become a more sustainable and joyous time.

Featured Image via Inhabitat

About the author

Kendall Sommers is a freshman day student from Southborough, Massachusetts. She runs cross-country and will be trying squash and crew this year. She is also a tour guide and participates in Students for Sustainability, GSA and St. Marguerite's Partnership. She loves trying new types of writing, painting and playing with her two dogs. Kendall’s favorite thing to do is volunteer at Special Olympics and work with kids. She can’t wait to be a part of the Parkman Post and find a voice in her community.

Related Articles


  1. Olivia

    This is a well written and very important article. I am concerned about the ethical and sustainable implications of plastic trees though. Response?

  2. Kendall Sommers

    Thank you for your response! I wrote this article as a push to improve sustainability during the holidays. While there are always ways to be more sustainable, but I the audience these suggestions were directed at was one of people who maybe need to take small first steps. Because you have to start somewhere when you are talking about being eco-friendly and be aware of different lifestyles. So I think, yes the plastic trees are less ethical and sustainable, but compared to the way most Americans celebrate, it is a more eco-friendly option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required)

Also in this Issue

Why Teens are Sleep Deprived

During the ages of fourteen to seventeen, the amount of sleep teens get is very important. According to a study by the CDC, the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is 8-10 hours. And yet the average amount of sleep that teens are getting is only 6-7 hours of sleep. So what has gone wrong? Read more →