The Ultimate List of Eco-Friendly and Environmental Holiday
Most of us already know about Earth Day. But did you know that there are loads of other environmental holidays to celebrate, too? Whether you’re a business, a non-profit, or a concerned individual, these holidays present the perfect opportunity to spread awareness and educate yourself and others on important issues.
In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day to impose environmental regulations issues on the national agenda, which led to the foundation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since then, organizations like the United Nations Environment Programme and International Dark-Sky Association, and activists like Anwar Fazal, have created several “green” holidays to share the importance of sustainability, environmental commitment, and appreciation for this beautiful planet of ours.
Beyond environmental holidays, we must also be aware of our increased environmental footprint during standard holidays, especially the big ones. Waste and carbon emissions go up during the holiday season, but if each household would make just a few small changes, it could have a huge positive impact on our planet.
If you’d like to extend your earth-conscious celebrations and be part of the change, here are 65 eco-friendly holidays from around the world and some tips for celebrating your favorite holidays in an eco-friendly way.
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66 Celebratory Environmental Holidays
Environmental holidays are a great way to remind ourselves to be good stewards of our planet and to spread awareness about environmental issues. You don’t have to celebrate every Earth-related holiday. Pick a handful that resonates with you, and on those days, be sure to post a little something on your social media channels for awareness, donate to a cause you love, and take a little extra time to be aware of your impact.
Celebrate Veganuary throughout January, a challenge from a UK nonprofit to go vegan for an entire month.
January 1: Make a Green New Year’s Resolution
January 5: National Bird Day
January 31: International Zebra Day
Celebrate Black History Month throughout February.
February 2: World Wetlands Day
February 14: World Bonobo Day
February 15: World Hippopotamus Day
February 18: National Battery Day
Third Sunday of February: World Whale Day
February 27: International Polar Bear Day
March 3: World Wildlife Day
March 14: International Day of Action for Rivers
March 15: World Consumer Rights Day
March 18: Global Recycling Day
March 20: World Sparrow Day
March 21: International Day of Forests
March 22: World Water Day
March 23: World Meteorological Day
Last Saturday of March: Earth Hour
Celebrate Earth Month throughout April.
April 3: World Aquatic Animal Day
April 19 - 27: National Park Week
April 20 - 26: Dark Sky Week
April 22:Earth Day
Last Friday of April: National Arbor Day
Second Saturday of May: International Migratory Bird Day (U.S. & Canada)
Third Friday of May: Bike to Work Day
May 4: Greenery Day (Japan)
May 20: World Bee Day
May 22: International Day for Biological Diversity
May 24: European Day of Parks
May 31: World No Tobacco Day
Celebrate Great Outdoors Month throughout June.
First Saturday in June: National Trails Day
June 5: World Environment Day
June 8: World Oceans Day
June 9: Coral Triangle Day
June 15: Global Wind Day
June 17: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
June 22: World Rainforest Day
Celebrate Plastic-Free July by working to bring your plastic footprint to zero.
July 1 - 7: National Clean Beaches Week
July 11: World Population Day
July 28: World Nature Conservation Day
July 29: International Tiger Day
August 11: Mountain Day
August 12: World Elephant Day
August 21: National Honey Bee Day
September 4: National Wildlife Day
September 7: International Day of Clean Air
September 16: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
September 19: National Cleanup Day
Third weekend of September: Clean Up the World Weekend
September 21: Zero Emissions Day
September 16 - 22: European Mobility Week
September 22: World Car Free Day
September 26: National Public Lands Day
September 27: National Crush Day
Last Sunday in September: World Rivers Day
Celebrate World Habitat Awareness Month throughout October.
First Monday in October: World Habitat Day
October 1: World Vegetarian Day
October 4: World Animal Day
October 22: World Planting Day
October 24: International Day of Climate Action
Celebrate Native American Heritage Month throughout November.
November 1: World Vegan Day
November 6: International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict
November 15: National Recycling Day
November 17: National Hiking Day
December 5: World Soil Day
December 11: International Mountain Day
Bonus: Meatless Mondays
Every Monday throughout the year, do your part for the environment by forgoing meat. Switching to a vegetarian diet just once a week can do wonders for your health and the environment.
How to celebrate environmental holidays
The United Nations and other non-profit organizations established earth-focused “holidays” to raise awareness of issues. Therefore, educating yourself and the people around you is the best way to celebrate these days.
If you are reading this from the lens of an eco-focused business, these holidays represent excellent opportunities to talk about issues you are passionate about and that your business is helping to address and, in turn, support your business’s marketing efforts.
If you are reading this from the lens of a non-profit, these holidays are perfect days to educate the public about issues, some of which are relatively obscure. For instance, most people don’t understand the importance of soil, but showcasing the difference between dead versus healthy soil on December 5th (World Soil Day) can help. Couple this with tips people can take to improve soil health, and you’ve leveraged this holiday for precisely what it intended to achieve.
If you are an interested citizen, these holidays present the perfect opportunity to talk to friends about issues or engage in relevant activities. For example, sign up for your curbside compost program on World Soil Day or start your home compost bin.
Let’s take a look at some ways to spread awareness:
- Post some facts or an infographic on social media
- Donate to your favorite cause related to the holiday, and encourage others to do the same
- Create an event to take action on a particular holiday. For example, you can organize a beach cleanup for National Beach Cleaning Week during the first week of July.
- Include your friends in monthly challenges. For example, you can join a group to participate in Meatless Mondays and keep each other accountable.
Eco-friendly tips for celebrating all holidays
Now that you have a calendar full of environmental holidays, bringing the same eco-friendly spirit to all holidays is time. We all recognize that stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas as “THE” holiday season. Unfortunately, that particular mega holiday season is not typically the most eco-friendly. This time of year can generate up to 43% more waste than the rest of the year, and holiday travel results in higher carbon emissions.
Every step we take to decrease the environmental footprint of the season is a win for the planet. With the big season just around the corner, our experts have gathered the best tips to celebrate a sustainable, eco-friendly holiday season, whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Festivus.
(Looking to make changes throughout the year? Click here for tips on running sustainable events all year long.)
Source eco-friendly products
Opt for eco-friendly products when finding the perfect presents for your loved ones. Consider each item's materials, usability, and longevity so that your present doesn’t become part of the problem one day. For example, if you’re looking for activewear for a runner in your family, find recycled polyester running shorts or shoes made of recycled rubber. This way, they can enjoy workout clothing that wicks sweat in a circular manner.
Purchase your gifts online
Is there anything worse than driving all over town to fulfill your shopping list? It turns out it’s not just bad for your stress; the travel time is bad for your carbon footprint, too. Online shopping allows you to shop from the comfort of your home, leaving you and the planet happy. Unfortunately, everything in life has an environmental footprint, including online shopping. You can minimize your impact by looking for companies that offer sustainable packaging.
Avoid expedited and overnight shipping
We’ve all experienced the stress and struggles of last-minute shopping the week before Christmas, so we understand what a lifesaver overnight shipping can be. But it comes with a cost. Expedited shipments can carry as much as 35 times more emissions than standard shipments. Ouch. Do your best to avoid this by completing your holiday shopping well ahead of time and opting for the slower but much more eco-friendlier standard shipping option.
Window shop online and buy local
Planning ahead by mapping out your shopping plan can reduce carbon emissions and create a much easier shopping experience overall. Some stores even have pickup options, so you can purchase the item online and go to the store to see it in person before taking it home. These services help limit the driving that needs to be done—rather than going all around town, you can go directly to the store and know that the items are there—while maintaining the experience of shopping at a physical store.
Give ethically with handmade, recycled, or repurposed gifts
Handmade gifts (made of recycled and/or recyclable materials, of course) are eco-friendly and personal. Choose natural materials like wood, paper, or recycled fabric to ensure your gifts are biodegradable. Recycled and repurposed gifts can be another way to minimize waste associated with gift-giving. When opting for this choice, make sure you put a lot of time and energy into making these gifts special.
Use recycled paper for wrapping gifts
As a sustainable packaging company, we know the importance of using eco-friendly and recycled materials. Using recycled wrapping paper is a cost-effective way to reduce paper waste. Add special touches like leaves, twine, or a painted-on design to maintain the holiday spirit while making the right choice for our planet. You can also reuse things like corrugated bubble or eco-friendly package filler to protect fragile items in an eco-friendly way.
Here's a guide to making a special package to inspire you.
Send digital gift cards or opt for gift experiences
Sometimes, we’re not quite sure what to get a person. Some people are simply difficult to shop for, no matter how long you’ve known them. Sending digital gift cards is a great way to reduce carbon emissions, and your loved ones can buy something they genuinely want online. Take the extra step by sending a gift card that supports an environment-friendly company.Similarly, a gift experience, like baseball tickets, a short trip, or cooking lessons, can be bought online and minimize your environmental footprint by limiting your shopping travel time and gift wrap.
Here's a list of 11 experiential gift ideas in case you’re stuck.
Choose green holiday décor
Christmas trees, decorative lights, plastic ornaments, and more contribute greatly to the heightened environmental impact of the holiday season. Being more strategic about decorating your house allows you to enjoy holiday decor while remaining a good steward of the planet. Here are six ways you can be more green with your decorations:
- Switch to LED or solar lights. LED lights are 90% more efficient than traditional holiday lights and solar-powered ones don’t require energy. So using these kinds of lights is a more cost-effective and greener choice.
- Use timers for your holiday decorations. They will give you peace of mind and lower your holiday lights' power consumption during the day.
- Opt for beeswax or organic candles. Organic candles are ethically sourced and are free from potentially harmful additives.
- Use natural decorations. Decorate with real plants, and avoid plastics you will throw away at the end of the year.
- Make your centerpieces from recycled materials. Recycled paper, glass jars, fabrics, and ribbons are excellent décor materials. You can upcycle used lightbulbs by filling them with water, hanging them upside down on a wall, and filling them with plants.
- Buy a potted Christmas tree. Potted Christmas trees need less space and are more durable than fully-grown Christmas trees. After the holiday, you can even plant it in your backyard.
Decrease waste around the dinner table
Once you’ve bought your presents and decorated your home in an eco-friendly way, you need to make sure that your dinner table maintains the same environmental ethics. Agriculture has a huge ecological footprint, and according to the NRDC, around 40% of food is wasted. If every household did its part to reduce food waste, especially around the holidays, it could make a major impact.
Here are some ways to decrease waste at the holiday dinner table:
- Purchase only what you will eat. Yes, the holiday season is about gorging on your favorite snacks, but we can’t go overboard. Carefully review your guest list and align your shopping list with what you think you’ll need.
- Avoid disposable dishes. Using ceramic dishes for your holiday meal will drastically reduce trash production.
- Use up or donate your leftovers. It’s okay if you have some food left over; it’s hard to determine precisely what everyone will eat. But, when you’re done, save as much as possible to be eaten later.
Making eco-friendly decisions doesn’t require massive changes. By opting for the greener option here and there, you can make a huge difference. It is possible to enjoy all the fun traditions we love while practicing green living. You simply need to make mindful decisions as you plan your holiday fun.
Recycling is absolutely critical, as is knowing how to recycle correctly. Learn the correct steps to take to ensure you are recycling efficiently.
Find answers some of the most common holiday recycling FAQs and tips on how to responsibly buy and recycle many of the holiday basics.
Explore our sustainable packaging guides to help you choose the right packaging solution for your shipments.