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Climate Action Corner: Tips For Celebrating the Holidays Sustainably

Tips For Celebrating the Holidays Sustainably

We know that this holiday season will be different from other years, as we are still in this transition period. The pandemic continues to provide an opportunity for all of us to actively refocus on what is truly meaningful in our lives, and at no time will the opportunity for reflection be greater than during the holidays. Your Climate Action Committee encourages you to keep the planet in mind, as well as the health of future generations, as you make your choices for the holidays. We have a wonderful opportunity to redefine how we celebrate, and what is truly important. Here are some actionable tips for sustainably celebrating.


This month as we celebrate various holidays, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all could focus on what really matters: being part of a community, and giving thanks for the friends, family members and clients who make our lives special!

  • Give of yourself! Make a call to someone with whom you have not been in touch for some time. If you’ve already been through your contact list once since the pandemic began, maybe it’s time for a second pass! The words “thank you” or “I’ve missed seeing you” really can be a valuable gift to someone! Planning to get together for a safe meeting, perhaps at an outdoor café, could be especially appreciated by those still limiting their activity.

  • Buy Local! Check your local crafts fairs, Open Studios and Farmer’s Markets for gift ideas, such as herb-flavored hand-pressed olive oils, specialty chocolates, soaps, monthly vegetable box subscriptions, handmade clothes, jewelry, pottery or photography. This supports the local farmers and craftsmen and keeps your precious dollars within our community. And how special to get to meet the person who created the gifts you give! Whenever the urge strikes to use a mega-national delivery service consider the big picture: each delivery involves some carbon footprint. But more significantly the big delivery services have been responsible for the loss of many small, local businesses reflecting the specialness of our area. They are not invested in our local economy!

  • Give Consumables! Choose edible or reusable items as great low-waste options; items from your own garden or kitchen are always especially meaningful and appreciated. Edible items are appreciated no matter how much “stuff” people have!

Consider making this year’s holiday meals special by ordering from a local restaurant:

  • Order take-away from some of the many local restaurants and caterers that have remained open, and really need your business to continue to thrive. Give a call to your favorite restaurant and see what special items they are offering. You might consider Ann’s Catering, which used to provide fare for so many of our broker tours, and now provides daily meals and weekend specials to take away, including a special Christmas meal to order in advance!

  • Order a pie or cake to give, or to share for the holidays, and deliver it (or have it delivered) to clients or friends. Here’s a list of local options.

Buy fewer things as gifts, and focus on experiences:

  • Give a membership to a local museum, zoo, or aquarium. Some are outdoor experiences, and all will have updated safety protocols.

  • Give gift cards to local businesses. That helps some of our favorite businesses stay afloat, and your friends will enjoy excellent local items. The Cheese Board is always a hit with its excellent breads as well as their amazing pizzas! Or choose your local bookstore like Pegasus, Mrs. Dalloways, or Walden Pond Books. So many independent stores have closed in the past year and a half, so consider supporting those that have survived!

Support local community services with donations:

There are so many worthy causes that are having a really tough time, and you can make a donation, or make it in the name of someone you wish to honor. Whether you wish to support the struggling arts, or donate to the food banks which need record donations, or want to help the homeless, your donations will be greatly appreciated. You can help make sure local animals are taken care of by donating to shelters. Through the end of the year, you can adopt an animal at the Oakland Zoo. For your animal-loving friends, this is a super present and supports our wonderful local facility!

And when you do buy physical gifts, consider these tips:

  • Give environmentally-friendly gifts that also make a statement, such as plastic-alternatives: bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste tablets, shampoo in bar form, canvas bags, stainless steel travel mugs or water bottles, or garden tools. All of these items and more can be purchased from the local Ecology Center store. And you can refill items at on Solano Ave. Your gifts can also carry an important message!

  • Wrap your gifts by recycling: use old maps, comic pages, or re-usable gift bags or baskets. Use reusable ribbons and bows, or decorate with herbs, pinecones, holly or other natural materials. Scraps of wonderful wallpapers make exceptional wrapping paper!

Thanks for your attention, and for putting THANKS and LOCAL front and center during the holiday season of 2021. Even though these past months have been challenging, we each still have so much for which we can be thankful!

The Climate Action Committee serves as a Bridge AOR resource, educating and facilitating activities in support of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction for a sustainable low-carbon future.


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