Christmas is once again upon us, and we’re all more than ready to disconnect from work and spend some quality time with family and friends, both physically

COVID-19 made us face a reality that most of us have only read about or seen in movies. It has tested human resilience to the maximum, changing both our professional and personal lives in a way we never thought possible.

Some of the words that define this year are masks, social distancing, lockdowns, quarantine, confinement, inability to travel, but also environmental impact and sustainability. And, we bet, a considerable majority of us used those words for the first time.

The “coronavirus” crisis is the result of biodiversity loss, which stems from rapid urbanisation, deforestation and bushmeat markets, a fact acknowledged by more than environmentalists.

The side effect of this pandemic has been the world waking up to the magnitude of the planet’s environmental problems. Tackling environmental issues is increasingly becoming a top priority for governments and companies alike.

But while global institutions and governments are creating guidelines and investing heavily in sustainable projects and solutions, the power to create impact is in the hands of every single individual on the planet. And small, daily actions are the ones that can make a big difference and positively influence our common future.

There is never a bad time to start making a difference, so why not start now with the holidays, which environmentalists argue is the most hurtful holiday for our Planet. With this in mind, Valérie Arnold, our Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability leader, compiled a short list of eco-friendly ways for you to have a more sustainable Christmas and leave a lighter environmental footprint.

Five eco-friendly tips for a sustainable Christmas

Tip 1. Make sure you and family are safe.

As we spent the year social distancing due to the pandemic, the holidays won’t be any different. It’s important that we remember to stay safe, both for our sakes, and for the sake of others.

A Christmas lunch or dinner means removing face masks and often sitting very close to one another for long periods of time. To reduce the risk of “coronavirus” transmission indoors, open a window and a door to ensure some airflow through the house. You can also put on your mask when you’re no longer eating and, if you can, use separate bathrooms.

You can also consider self-quarantine before the week of Christmas to make sure you stay healthy and don’t pose a risk to older family members or even people from risk groups.

Tip 2. Think long-term gifts and the local economy.

Christmas is known as the “season of giving” and the exchange of gifts is a traditional part of the holiday. When you buy your gifts this year, take the following into consideration.

Buy a gift considering its long-term value and usage. House plants, package-free beauty products such as shampoo bars and natural soap, vegetarian/vegan recipe books, are only a few gift ideas you can consider. Free your green imagination and get creative.

With the growing impact of COVID-19 in the local economies around the world, make sure you support your local commerce. You’ll be contributing to a strong and sustainable local economy but also ensuring the survival of small and medium businesses. Every gesture counts!

Tip 3. Reconsider the impact of holiday lighting in the environment

Everyone likes to have a well and beautifully lit house both inside and out during the holiday season. However, people tend not to like the electricity bill that follows. The cost of electricity impacts both the wallet and the environment as electricity also drains natural resources.

A smaller light display can be just as beautiful and even more appropriate during the “season of giving”. Give back to the environment by conserving resources. Use Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights instead of traditional bulbs. According to this article, they use up to 95% less energy and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. The best part? If one of the LED lights burns out, the others will remain lit.

Tip 4. Bet on a different and more sustainable Christmas dinner.

In Luxembourg, families produce on average 30% more waste around the holidays than throughout the year. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce this!

This year, with the limits on the people we can have in our house, the number of invitees will be reduced. It’s a great opportunity to buy less and go for just the right amount of food. Start off by limiting the number of dishes on the menu, and buy ingredients taking a closer look at how much each person actually eats. Are there still leftovers? The internet has an endless number of pages with useful ideas to make the most of leftovers!

Also, why not go for a vegetarian/vegan menu instead of using red meat? You don’t need to change everything, but adding a few dishes that are completely plant-based is already a good idea.

Tip 5.Give a little to those who need it the most.

COVID-19 has had, and keeps having, a major impact in both local and global economies and job markets. Unemployment has skyrocketed to levels never seen in living memory with millions of people unable to go to work.

While most European countries established ways to soften the pandemic’s impact on their job markets, some people still ended up losing their main source of income.

But the newly unemployed aren’t the only victims of this pandemic. People living under poor conditions such as the homeless for example, are also affected and are, in most cases, unable to protect themselves against the virus that has taken so many lives worldwide.

You can contribute to making things a bit easier for others by sharing a bit of your fortune by donating –not just money, but also food, unused toys, medication and clothes with institutions and associations both locally, regionally and even internationally.

A little goes a long way. Our actions can mean the world to someone else, and everyone deserves to have a reason to smile.