Alissa Oliverson

Alissa Oliverson

Christmas is just around the corner, so while you prepare for this wonderful time of the year, consider these ways to make merry and bright environmentally friendly, too.

The holiday season is traditionally a period of peak consumption, but holiday magic doesn’t have to trash the planet. Everything from the tree you buy to the food you eat can make a big difference when it comes to conserving resources and preserving the ecosystems that sustain us. Did you know that changing a single meal item to a plant-based alternative can save at least 425 gallons of water?

And how about this: you can plant a tree instead of buying one and decorate a house plant instead. This simple holiday hack will provide oxygen, help reduce storm water runoff, reduce erosion and pollution, and provide shelter, food, and protection for wild animals. Both ideas save you money and do a service to the planet and all life upon it.

Let’s look at some more eco-holiday hacks and get into a green state of mind for this holiday season. Instead of purchasing single-use gifts (often at the last minute, am I right?), why not buy something that lasts?

Swap in a potted plant that flowers at Christmastime in place of those little trinkets that take energy to create and give none back. Seasonal blooms will be a source of fresh air and joy for years to come. A Christmas cactus will bloom during the holiday season, and although it’s not a flowering plant, the bonsai tree is a hot item these days. Bonus idea: Purchase the plant from a local shop to support your local economy and cut down on the emissions required for transporting goods.

Have you ever thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of stuff under the tree!” Well, all that stuff comes from somewhere, it’s wrapped in materials that took energy to create, and a lot of those gifts and wrappings will end up in the landfill where they will produce environmentally harmful substances.

So instead of overbuying, consider choosing one gift instead of many for each person on your list. Your family and friends could even coordinate a gift exchange to ensure that gifting isn’t overdone and still tons of fun. Hand-making gifts is another way to reduce your holiday consumption while remaining true to the spirit of the season.

Bake some cookies and craft individualized cards for grandparents. Make a pillow with someone’s home décor colors, build a game set (like cornhole or horseshoes) for the backyard athlete in your life, or sew a quick cup sleeve for your favorite coffee enthusiast. The internet is bursting with DIY gift ideas that are useful, meaningful, and sustainable — and you’ve still got time to make your moves. Stop purchasing wrapping paper and opt for recycled paper, newspaper, reused paper bags, or fabric instead.

Did you know that the Japanese art of furoshiki is trending? Check it out! Learn how to wrap your gifts in gorgeous fabric that will delight the receivers and can be reused over and over again. Make your own holiday decorations or purchase them second-hand.

If you must buy cards to send out, consider plantable cards: the kind with seeds embedded in them. Plan your holiday meals in order to cut down on food waste. Check out SaveTheFood.com and try out their free “Guest-Imator,” which will help you plan your meal for your exact number of guests and desired number of leftover meals.

Get the handyman or fixer-upper in your life a membership to the Klamath Tool Library. Located at 1221 Main Street (next to Rodeo’s Pizza), Sustainable Klamath’s Tool Library is stocked with more than 1,000 tools that your handy friend or family member can rent for their project and return when they’re done.

It’s a great way to keep budgets in check, get the job done, and fulfill the most important R in the sustainability behavior chain: Reduce. The Tool Library is run entirely by Sustainable Klamath volunteers and currently open Thursdays 5-7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can find more information on the Tool Library website at: klamathtoollibrary.org. You just can’t go wrong when you think and gift sustainably. And if you want to take it a step further, consider joining Sustainable Klamath to work toward a more sustainable future in the Basin. We are always looking for motivated volunteers to join us, donations, and fresh ideas.

Whatever your holiday plans, we at Sustainable Klamath wish you a joyful season filled with the people and things you love, and a sustainable future that enriches us all. For more information about sustainability in the Basin, to volunteer or donate, visit SustainableKlamath.org.

— Alissa Oliverson is chair of Sustainable Klamath’s Solid Waste Action Committee.