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Dashing Through the Holidays Sustainably

Person with scissors wrapping a gift

Management Topic: Dashing Through the Holidays Sustainably

Dear Colleagues,

As we enter December and the start of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in Dubai, November’s release of a sweeping scientific report is still top of mind. The Fifth National Climate Assessment, released by the White House and co-authored by three UCLA professors, covers our changing climate and response strategies. What is indisputable is the human influence — compelling evidence that Earth’s citizens, and we Bruins, need to make better, more sustainable choices. Starting now, we can develop more planet-positive habits heading into the holiday season and the new year.

While humans are driving climate change, we can change that trajectory by taking individual actions to reduce planet-heating emissions. It is possible to be merry and eco-friendly! You can replace harmful holiday behavior with these low-carbon holiday alternatives to make new sustainable traditions.

Deck the Halls with Mother Earth in Mind

Whether you’re decorating your home or office space, get creative and do-it-yourself (DIY) and upcycle decor. Use household items and utilize nature by incorporating fallen leaves, pinecones, dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, etc., to jazz up your space.

On the sustainability of an artificial vs. live Christmas tree, the greenest option is a potted one that you plant after the holiday season.

Switch to Energy Efficient Holiday Lights

Use ENERGY STAR certified lights. They are 90% more efficient than conventional incandescent and last longer.

Green Shopping and Sustainable Gifts

There are ways to reduce your consumption impact when buying and giving presents.

Support local businesses and for your shopping trips, try carpooling, taking the bus, walking, or riding a bike to your destination.

Get crafty! Go with homemade gifts, like ornaments, cookies, or picture frames. Or gift an experience, like a museum membership, class, concert ticket, or spa day — the options are endless, and the recipient will be so grateful for the personal touch! You can also choose gifts that help people live more sustainably, like a quality reusable water bottle. Charitable donations, including those to an environmental organization, are a nice idea as well.

If purchasing gifts, consider thrift shops and secondhand stores, and opt for vintage, antique, or re-purposed items. If you must purchase new items, opt for sustainable gifts that are:

  1. Produced sustainably, i.e. with renewable energy
  2. Made from sustainable materials, i.e. containing recycled content
  3. Free of or containing minimal packaging, especially single use plastic, styrofoam and other non-recyclable/compostable items

Cut the Excess Wrapping

Earth911 estimates that approximately 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and that about 2.3 million pounds — about half of it — ends up in landfills.

Wrap with materials you already have, like newspaper, comics, old maps, or paper shopping bags. You can also use fabric or cloth, like scarves, for a reusable wrapping.

Once used, save gift wrapping and re-purpose it. Otherwise, recycle or compost accordingly.

Host an Eco-Friendly Feast

Buy locally grown food if possible, and serve with reusable cups, plates, silverware, and utensils. If unfeasible, utilize compostable wares (excluding PLA). Plant-based meals are also much better for the planet. If you must serve meat, source products locally and organically. Tell guests to come with containers for leftovers too! Run the dishwasher to save water and energy after the festivities. Properly clean and sort all materials and waste during disposal to ensure maximum material recovery. Check your local municipality for what is accepted in the waste streams.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!

Leadership 2029

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