6 ways to green your holiday

6 ways to green your holiday

Happy holidays! Think about your favourite thing to do over the festive season; then think about how you might be able to make it a little ‘greener’ this year. The planet needs some time-out too. Here are a few ideas to get us all started…


  1. Unplug!

    It’s likely you’ll be travelling at some point during the holidays. Before you leave, take five minutes to switch off and/or unplug all of your home appliances. Turn off all lights, electronics, computer equipment, kettles, microwaves and other appliances. Phantom load – the electricity consumed when appliances are switched off or in standby mode – can account for up to 8-10% of your annual energy use!1


  1. Greener gifts
  • Experience something together. In lieu of trawling the shops for another ‘thing’, give your loved ones an experience they’ll relish – a meal out; a weekend away; lessons in something. Even better, plan an activity that you can do together: something as simple as a day picnicking in the sunshine can be just as precious as the most expensive ‘thing’ around.
  • Gifts that last. A hoard of spontaneous bits and pieces may not be as useful to the receiver as one might hope; rather club together for one or two items of lasting quality that you know they’ll love and use.
  • Buy local. Where possible, try to do your gift shopping through local artisans and suppliers. You’ll be supporting the local economy, and buying produce that is more likely to be sustainably produced on a smaller scale, with much fewer ‘travel miles’ than imported merchandise.1
  • Wrap creatively! Use old newspaper or recyclable paper and cards, or make your own from minimal resources. Think small and creative… homemade is always appreciated. Once the excitement is over, the most important part is remembering to put all the bits and pieces in the recycling bin.


  1. Eating out
  • Quiz your waiter on their seafood – is it sustainably sourced? Where does it fall on the SASSI list? If he or she isn’t sure, have a look for yourself.
  • Try the veggie option! Most restaurants are getting much better at whipping up a tasty vegetarian option (or a few.) Give them a go; you may well be the envy of the table.
  • Local sourcing. Try to support restaurants that are endeavouring to source their produce locally and sustainably. I know this can be tricky (and sometimes a little more expensive), but here are a few ideas.


  1. Eating in
  • Takeaway boxes. Takeaways make easy holiday meals, but they often come with a heap of unnecessaries (extra serviettes, plastic forks, the works!) Don’t forget to recycle everything and anything that makes the cut.
  • Love your leftovers. With the festive season in full swing, friends and family are coming and going, and we often prepare food in excess. Instead of throwing leftovers in the bin, keep them in the fridge for lunch the next day. If you’re not really the leftover type, pass them onto someone less fortunate who likely needs the nourishment.


  1. Less plastic

    Try for a holiday with less plastic. Say no to plastic shopping bags (leave your reusable one in the car!), no to the coffee cup lid, and no to straws. Try it.


  1. Water-wise

    The best thing we can do is be aware – we live in an inherently water-stressed country and we should conserve water all the time in every way we can: turn off the tap while brushing your teeth; install a low-flush toilet or put a brick in your toilet cistern; collect shower water in a bucket and switch off the water while lathering up (with summer in full swing, it’s infinitely less painful than it was a couple of months ago!) Most of all, be conscious of any water that goes down the drain. That water is gone for good, and takes years and years to be replenished.

  1. Green your holiday season [Internet]. Sustainability at Harvard. 2017 [cited 31 July 2017]. Available from: https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/green-tip/green-your-holiday-season

Kate Black

As the daughter of a wildlife filmmaker, Kate spent her early childhood in the Okavango Delta. Over the years, she has been fortunate to explore many of Southern Africa’s other wild places, contributing to her keen interest in African wildlife conservation. With a career grounded in digital marketing, Kate recently made the decision to work as a freelance communications specialist, with a particular focus on environmental NGOs. An avid trail runner and hiker, she loves the outdoors and the incredible natural diversity that the Western Cape has to offer.

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