Considering Hanukkah's roots, it seems natural for it to be a sustainable holiday. The central story of Hanukkah is one day's oil lasting to meet the need of eight days. This holiday serves as a celebration yet also as a reminder to cut back and save our precious resources. Check out the following ways to incorporate more green into your traditional Hanukkah blue and white this year.
Menorah. If you’re in the market for a new menorah consider creating it yourself instead of purchasing one. A menorah can be upcycled or hand crafted with recyclable materials, reducing waste and making your holiday more sustainable. A homemade menorah with recycled materials can make the holiday even more special than it already is.
Candles. Rather than burning regular, store-bought candles, support a cleaner environment and go natural. Natural beeswax or vegetable oil candles are a better option for Hanukkah candles, as they are less polluting to your indoor atmosphere. Also, while burning candles, make the most of your candlelight and keep the lights off. This helps conserve electricity and can even save you some money during the holiday season.
Dreidels. Making your own dreidels is a simple yet fun way to make your Hanukkah more green and sustainable. Creating dreidles with recycled wood or even recycled milk cartons instead of buying plastic ones not only improves the environment but also makes for a great family activity.
Gelt. If you love chocolate and enjoy giving chocolate gelt to your friends and family as part of your Hanukkah festivities, make sure the chocolate is fair trade. This movement holds food producers to certain high quality and sustainability standards, making it a greener option to choose.
Food. Hanukkah isn’t properly celebrated unless donuts and/or latkes are present. When shopping for ingredients, remember to support local farmers, producers and businesses when possible. When cooking these tasty fried foods, cook efficiently. Reuse the oil as much as possible and pour unused oil back into the bottle. Cook large batches at a time and freeze the leftovers to reduce waste and to have yummy snacks even after the holiday. Remember, if you do have leftover food and you don’t have room to save the leftovers, take the food to your local shelter or a hunger relief organization for others in need to enjoy.
Wrapping paper. Over the eight days of Hanukkah, you are bound to need wrapping paper for presents for your friends and family. Wrapping paper can easily pile up and end up in the trash. This year, try reusable gifts bags instead of paper and carefully save leftover wrapping paper so stays in good condition for next year. This will help you save money on the rolls of wrapping paper you normally purchase and minimize the waste headed to the landfill. You can also be creative with your gift wrapping and reuse things you already have.
Presents. This Hanukkah, consider giving a charitable donation in the name of one of your friends or family members to a worthy cause instead of giving a conventional gift. During the holiday season, many charities such as Heifer International provide children and families around the world with gifts. According to Heifer, 79 percent of Americans have said they would rather have a charitable gift given in their name. This holiday, donate to a charity and offset presents and gift wrapping in the process.
As you celebrate the festival of lights this year, try to preserve the light by incorporating sustainability into your holiday celebrations. Happy Hanukkah!