As you celebrate the holidays responsibly, you have to weigh your resources in the balance with hospitality and generosity. And when it comes to greetings, parties, and gifts, there’s a third party to consider: the planet. It has limited resources, too!

How to Celebrate the Holidays Responsibly and Keep them Eco-Friendly

We’ve still got a lot to learn. For example, did you know that email and other electronic communications actually carry a big carbon footprint? When it comes to sending a card or an email to clients, it might actually be better for outreach and the planet to send a simple paper greeting. Up the ante to post-consumer paper, and now we’re really getting somewhere.

Going green never has to be a bummer! Here are some other tips for keeping the holidays merry and bright, while still keeping an eye on the environment.

Class it up with non-disposables

When Americans really want to have a good time, we break out the disposable plates and cups. And really, those tiny fake-silver appetizer forks are adorbs. But green-wise, it’s just not smart! Styrofoam, plastic, and other synthetic materials don’t break down in landfills and contribute to global environmental problems in a big way.

But here’s the good news: now that we’ve been so used to disposables, non-disposables feel extra fancy. They add a touch of class and warmth to parties, and your guests feel it instinctively. “Real” dishes can inspire a high-class dining experience or a family-style atmosphere, which is good for relationship building and making an impression on clients, as well as for casual mixing and mingling.

Get your hands dirty (but wear an apron)

There are plenty of catering services who will provide real dishes, but that may not be in your budget. Make sure your admins aren’t all inwardly groaning at the thought of being left with holiday celebration clean-up! Consider making office party clean-up a leadership moment. Get the CEO, pastor, or other leadership involved, and make washing dishes and wiping down tables part of the fun. (In fact, maybe even let your admins go home early!) That gives you freedom to avoid disposables and big fees.

Gift yourself a corporate compost account

Can’t go non-disposable? Many regions offer corporate composting services. For a fee, they provide receptacles for the compost, give you a list of guidelines (what to dump, what not to dump), and then provide pickup and earth-friendly disposal. Instead of crowding liveable land with holiday trash (here are some sobering stats from Stanford!), your food scraps and compostable party products can turn into other things like organic fertilizer and animal feed.

Corporate composting of paper products, compostable flatware, and food items can make a huge impact on the environment (especially in urban areas) and make you a leader in your community for seriously going green.

Get creative with gift wrap

With environmental concerns getting more traction, it’s something of a trend now to ask for no gift wrap or recycled gift wrap for presents. (More ideas here.) You probably already do this at home (think of the plastic bows in your basement that get passed from one birthday party and holiday to another). It’s not a matter of being cheap or cheesy—it’s a matter of being creative and smart. Get creative on the corporate level!

If you do interoffice gift exchanges, for example, or send gifts as a charity cause, consider interesting ways to reduce or reuse wrapping, or combine the gifts with the packaging, such as using a gifted hand towel to wrap a bar of handmade soap, or presenting a gift in a reusable basket rather than a plastic gift bag. Also consider organic, biodegradable materials for wrapping items, such as cloth, wool yarn, and brown paper, whenever you can instead of plastic-based materials. Using the newspaper to wrap gifts is still a fun and simple way to be frugal and kind to the earth.

How can I keep the holidays eco-friendly in my office?

Great ways to reduce holiday office waste include: 1. Using non-disposable dishes and/or flatware at parties (and leveraging dishwashing as a community building moment); 2. Opening a corporate compost and/or recycling account with a local waste management company; 3. Reducing gift wrap and packaging; and 4. Reusing yearly party supplies and décor.

De-Scrooge the Internet

Going eco-friendly includes corporate gifts. If you’re sending pre-wrapped boxes from online stores, for example, consider whether the gifts are wrapped economically, or look impressive but add a lot of needless waste. You can have things boxed or wrapped simply, and with recyclable materials, and still look snazzy, without creating a lot of trash. One way to do this is order unwrapped gift items and wrap them simply when they arrive or send gifts that don’t require any more wrapping than a box and be sure to include a nice note. You can even mention, “We’re going green this year!” And one timeless solution: send items that don’t need to be wrapped at all, like bonuses, tickets, and gift certificates.

Shake up old traditions

While we’re at it, do your people even like Secret Santa and White Elephant parties? Don’t be afraid to break up old traditions and start new ones, especially if they encourage the giving and receiving of stuff people don’t really want or need. Take an office survey with some different options and see what people would rather do.

Caterers who shop local and watch their waste are also often creative and willing to work with budgets. They can be a great option for getting fresh and delicious choices while staying green. Finally, don’t order too much food, and make sure it’s stuff people actually want to eat, no matter if it’s something “you’ve always had!”

Do what you can

None of us will become waste-free overnight, but it does take those first steps in the right direction. Recycling decor, for example—great first step, and simple! Going green adds to your community, gives you “street cred” and bragging rights, is great for marketing, and shows a dedication to forward thinking, innovation, exceptional corporate responsibility, and just plain goodwill.

Letter Jacket Envelopes is the right choice for getting your party invitations looking fabulous. We can also help you get just what you need to minimize waste. Let us know what you want, and get free shipping on your first order!

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