It’s a season of excess, with lots of giving, lots of eating and ideally, lots of celebrating. It’s also a time of excess waste – materials for wrapping, fuel for transportation, electricity for holiday lights, the list goes on. Here are some helpful tips to help make your holiday an environmentally-friendly one:
- Buy locally. You’ll not only be supporting jobs within the community, you’ll also cut down on fossil fuels that are required for shipping items that may be halfway around the globe. Idea: Membership gift certificates give the gift of experience and ZooParent Adoption provides fun, enriching toys that our animals will use again and again. Click here and watch results of our ZooParent Program in action.
Support butterfly habitat. Give the gift of increasing butterfly habitat. Invest in a Butterfly Beltway garden to have planted in a location of your choosing. The best part: The Zoo will do most of the work for you.
- Choose gifts from recycled sources. You can find many items at the ZooShop that are fair trade and handmade from recycled materials, including soda cans, telephone wire, and flip flops.
Feed the local birds. Hang pine cone feeders in nearby trees for native bird species. These feeders are an easy and sustainable craft to make, using pine cones, string and a binding agent (palm oil-free nut butter or a sustainable palm oil peanut butter work great) and bird seed are all you need. What’s so important about palm oil? Unsustainable palm oil practices cause deforestation in Borneo and Sumatra, which in turn affects that animals that live there, like orangutans.
- Reduce your environmental impact further. Opt for battery-free toys – you decrease the chance for toxic chemicals to be leaked into the environment. Instead of turning the TV on, suggest a winter hike in your favorite park (we suggest Seneca Park). Another great way to reduce your impact – carpool with family and friends when you head out for holiday shopping.
- Use energy-efficient LED lights with a light timer for green power use. Cutting down on electricity helps polar bears, who rely heavily on sea ice to hunt for their food. The U.S. Geological Survey predicts that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will disappear by 2050, if high energy use continues.
- Re-gifting is OK. If you receive something you don’t need, look for ways to pass it on. It may be a great fit for a White Elephant Party.
- Be thrifty with wrapping. Old paper bags, newspapers (like the comic section), reusable gift bags and more make great alternatives to traditional store-bought wrapping paper. Opt for ribbon or string instead of tape. Click here for information on paper recycling with Monroe County.
Need more gift ideas this season? Donate to a local conservation organization like the Seneca Park Zoo Society. By doing so, you ensure continuous improvements and support our important education outreach programs as well as local, regional and global conservation efforts.
– Kelli O’Brien, Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator