Sustainable Holiday Quiz

I love how the holidays bring our collective attention to reconnecting with family and friends, celebrating the year that’s just gone by too fast. This time of year, after Halloween through Jan 1, is always an uplifting, exciting time, what with Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, holiday parties and customs, and the glitter-filled New Years Eve. It’s unfortunate but true that all the holiday to-do’s and festivities can cause even the most dedicated green living person to slip, so here are some strategies to keep sustainability a centerpiece of your holidays now to 2016!

How many numbers can you check off on this sustainable holiday quiz?

Holiday Meals:

1. Can you eliminate using paper towels, paper napkins and plastic wrap?

  • You could still use aluminum foil, which IS recyclable!
  • Instead of paper, consider using reusable, washable kitchen towels and cloth napkins.

2. Can you recycle more than you throw away?

3. Can you choose local/regional, organic, ethical/fair trade foods and beverages?

  • Coffee & tea, meats, honey & spices, breads, produce, and so on.
  • This generally results in healthier, tastier dishes, cuts down on emissions from food transport, supports your local economy, and supports healthier, safer, more ethical and more sustainable business practices.

4. Can you buy items packaged in bulk rather than in individual servings?

  • Packaging is one of the largest contributors to waste in landfills.

5. Can you avoid the use of disposable plates, cups, silverware?

  • Hosting and don’t have enough place settings? Consider asking your guests to bring some of their own plates and silverware, and devise a sticker or tagging system so people don’t “lose” their stuff.
  • At a minimum, eliminate all use of Styrofoam, instead choosing recyclable and/or biodegradable options.

6. Can you compost unwanted leftovers and cooking scraps?

  • Send those nutrients back to the soil rather than locking them up and mixing them in with chemicals in landfills!

Holiday Gifts:

7. Can you avoid giving people useless knick-knacks that would likely end up collecting dust or being thrown away?

  • Instead, you could buy them something useful and sustainably-minded, donate this money to a local charity, or buy a gift for an organization that gives them to kids and senior citizens in need .

8. Can you choose some local/regional/organic/ethical businesses to buy gifts from?

9. Can you choose gifts that aren’t battery operated or massive energy consumers?

10. Can you choose gifts made with healthy, chemical-free materials?

11. Can you choose gifts with minimal packaging?

12. Can you wrap your gifts in old newspaper or other recycled paper that can then be recycled again, OR can you use recycled/reusable gift bags with minimal/none/repurposed/recycled tissue?

Holiday Travel:

13. Can you avoid flying?

  • Use high speed rail, trains, subways, buses or other public transport options.
  • Carpool or rideshare with others going to the same location.
  • Use a car sharing company or rental company with hybrids and electric cars, leaving gas guzzlers at home.
  • If you’re staying near home, try walking or biking (weather permitting) in conjunction with using public transport instead of driving a car.

14. Can’t avoid flying?

  • Catch a direct flight. Fewer flights cut significant amounts of energy use and emissions, plus they get you where you want to be faster and minimize your chances of getting stranded by bad weather.
  • Purchase carbon travel offsets (click here to learn about carbon offsets and how they work).
  • Carpool or use public transit options to get to and from the airport.

15. Are you staying at a hotel?

  • Bring your own toiletries in reusable containers.
  • Turn off the lights and TV, and lower the thermostat when you’re leaving in the room.
  • Participate in the hotel’s linen reuse program.
  • Recycle!

How did you score?

  • 0-2 = F “Life always offers you a second chance, it’s called tomorrow.” Or right now.
  • 3-4 = D “Big things often have small beginnings.” I bet you are a big thing.
  • 5-7 = C “Ask questions. Be weird. Experiment. Have Goals. Believe you can.”
  • 8-10 = B- “Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyways.”
  • 11-13 = B “Dream the impossible dream, like a seahorse who dreams of winning the Kentucky Derby.”  So close to an ‘A’!
  • 14-15 = A “Dreams + work = success.” Excellent, what else can you do?
  • Go beyond this list = A+ “When people stare at me I assume it’s because they are taking notes on how to be awesome.”

The quiz portion of this blog was originally written for BLiNK: Perspectives on Design, HDR’s employee-written blog.


Published by Alex Setmajer

Sustainability professional driven to help the world continually become a more sustainable place.

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