With November quickly coming to an end, many of us are looking forward to one of the most popular festivals in the world: Hanukkah.
Many Hanukkah celebrations include indulging in delicious, traditional foods (hello, latkes and briskets!) and gathering with family. If you’re looking to make your Hanukkah celebration more eco-friendly this year, you’re in luck: we have a handful of tips that make it easy.
By doing something as simple as switching to different candles and making swaps in your recipes, you can easily reduce your family’s carbon footprint. Here are six easy tips to get you started.
6 Tips for a Sustainable Hanukkah
1. Burn Sustainable Candles
Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights, so candles play a major role in the celebration. When it’s time to light your menorah, consider using organic, all-natural candles.
Did you know burning conventional candles can be bad for the environment? Paraffin candles, for example, produce byproducts that contribute to greenhouse gases. Natural beeswax or vegetable oil candles are the least polluting options. To light them, you can even use a rechargeable lighter—no fuel or flame required.
2. Make Some Ingredient Swaps
Hanukkah, like most holidays, is all about good food. When making your favorite recipes, consider swapping in eco-friendly ingredients.
For latkes, for example, opt for locally-grown potatoes. When you buy local, there’s fewer greenhouse gas emissions—food doesn’t need to travel nearly as far to get to your table. Also consider switching up your toppings. Give dairy-free sour cream a try, which is better for the planet than options made from cow’s milk.
3. Reuse Wrapping Paper
Gifts are a fundamental part of most holiday traditions, but wrapping paper creates a lot of waste. Instead of buying new wrapping paper that gets thrown away at the end of the holiday, opt for eco-friendly options.
Reuse wrapping paper from last year’s festivities, or other celebrations. If you don’t have any leftover paper, there are several other creative eco-friendly wrapping ideas you can try, like using newspaper or cloth wrappings.
4. Give Eco-Friendly Gifts
Speaking of gifts, one of our favorite ways to make any holiday more sustainable is to give planet-friendly presents! Eco-friendly gifts promote a more circular economy, which is a core element in sustainable living. When we’re more circular, we use our products longer rather than buying new ones after a short period of time.
What does an eco-friendly gift look like? Consider gifting an experience. This could mean concert tickets, a hiking excursion, or anything that makes memories. Even something as simple as taking your friends or family ice-skating can be much more memorial than any material object.
Sustainable, secondhand products also make great eco-friendly gifts. And if you’re ready to challenge some norms, consider regifting! Regifting is a great way to make sure every product is maximally used. You could even start a new tradition in your family. When you know you’ll no longer use something, pass it on to someone who will.
5. Avoid Buying Plastic Dreidels
If you’re celebrating Hanukkah with kids, dreidels are probably part of your celebration. If you’re in the market for new dreidels, look for options that will last for years, like those made from wood instead of plastic. You can also handmake your dreidels, which can be a great family activity.
6. Eat Less Meat
With any holiday event, you can significantly cut down on carbon emissions by reducing the amount of meat on your table. A 2019 study published in Animal Frontiers found livestock is responsible for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouses gases. Beef is also one of the least sustainable meats.
Consider skipping the brisket and loading up on other traditional dishes instead. You can even try something new like tofu recipes or tempeh recipes, which are both great meat alternatives. Even making some small swaps can make a big difference over the holidays.
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