So many things about the holidays are different this year. Depending on where you are, you may not be to do many of the things you usually do to celebrate. We are currently in lockdown until the new year and will be staying home. It’s really tough, but it is also a chance to slow down and reflect. Our family has made a conscious effort to reframe the things we cannot do this year into exploring the things we *can* do with what we already have around us.
It is wonderful to see so many people getting into eco-friendly gifts, zero waste wrapping, and sustainable Christmas tree options, but this time provides so many more opportunities to be green! Try to work some of these broader themes into your holiday break to start the new year off with a sustainable mindset.
Explore Plant-Based Cooking Together
We are a plant-based family (and I have been for about 22 years) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t always new foods and recipes to try! While eating less meat and dairy makes a big impact, you do not have to be vegan to be an environmentalist! Even starting with just one plant-based meal and working from there makes a difference. Use this holiday time to experiment with recipes and substitutions in meals that your family eats regularly. Maybe you learn how to soak beans, marinate tempeh, or ferment something! Use some of this time at home to get into the kitchen together, make a more plant-rich meal plan to avoid food waste, and get cooking!
You can find some of our go to recipes here. Vegan ramen though…get on it. Really can’t stress this enough.
Take advantage of the holiday break to connect with nature and explore the environment in your area. There are so many things to be learned on these outings! Look at the forecasts together to pick the best times to be outside and plan your outdoor gear. Print or download a “nature treasure hunt” to your phone and record your observations in it. Make a note of what birds you see and look up a few when you return home, perhaps even borrowing a book from the library. Forage natural materials for crafts while you warm up inside with hot chocolate and popcorn.
My favourite part of our outdoor time is conversations that emerge as we walk. Free of the distractions of screens, books, and toys, kids open up so much with your undivided attention. This past year, we made a morning walk on our town trails part of our distance learning and had some of the best talks on everything from local ecosystems to social justice issues to coping with pandemic life.
Give With a Warm Hand
Now more than ever, it is important for us to focus on the spirit of giving and supporting our local communities. If you are decluttering for the new year, make an effort to re-home your items beyond simply dropping them at the thrift store wherever possible. Help out a neighbour with snow-shovelling, picking up their groceries, or dropping off a meal. In addition to giving homemade and secondhand gifts, look for opportunities to involve the whole family in giving to charities and volunteering for causes that reflect your values. If this is new for your family, it’s a great opportunity for a chat about what you each care about and how you can work towards that together. Mutual aid and community resilience are key to climate action and we can start today.
Make New Eco-Conscious Holiday Traditions Together
With many of us having to stay home for the holidays, we have the opportunity to make new traditions special to our family unit. These could truly look like anything! Maybe you decide to have a non-traditional holiday meal, or choose a movie to watch while you string popcorn, have a pajama day, roast marshmallows, baking cookies, playing board games or doing puzzles. Not everything has to be outdoors in nature to be eco-conscious! Simply choosing to stay home and be content with what you already have makes an impact and models eco-habits for your family.
For more ways to connect with winter rhythms this holiday, check out my latest for EcoParent – Creating Eco-Conscious Holiday Traditions!
What are you doing to keep it green this holiday season?