Brass Menora and wooden dreidels

Happy Hanukkah! Running from December 18 to December 26 this year (2022), Hanukkah is a holiday rooted in conservation — consider that a one-day supply of oil lasted a miraculous eight days. You can stretch your resources just as far by keeping these eight tips in mind for an eco-friendly celebration.

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1. Burn clean candles

Instead of candles made of petroleum-based paraffin wax, look for ones that use beeswax, soy, or coconut.

2. Give gifts that are experiences

The presents can really pile up when you have eight days of gift-giving. Instead of adding more stuff to your life, give experience-based items like a cooking class or tickets to a sporting event. If your kids receive a lot of toys, have them choose one old toy to donate for each new one they get.

3. Reuse gift wrap

Speaking of presents, the wrapping paper can really add up, too. Get creative by wrapping your gifts in reusable bags or other things you have around the house. Then save all the gift bags from this year to use for next year. If you do buy new gift wrap, choose a kind that’s recyclable.

4. Make just the right amount of food

Leftovers can be great, but don’t cook so much that it ends up going to waste. You can figure out just what you need to make by using this waste-free dinner calculator.

Potatoe latkes, hannukah celebration dish
Don’t overdo it on the potato latkes — or pour the cooking oil left over from cooking them down the drain.

5. Dispose of oil properly

Ah, latkes. Those little potato pancakes go hand in hand with Hanukkah. When you’re done frying them in oil, don’t pour it down the drain! Here’s what to do instead.

6. Serve your meals on reusable dishes

It might seem easier to buy some paper plates and plastic utensils if you’re hosting a big shindig, but using real plates and forks is the better choice.

7. Buy fair trade chocolate

Chocolate gelt — chocolate “coins” wrapped in gold and silver — is a fun tradition, but mass-produced chocolate does no favors for the environment. Look for fair-trade, ethically sourced options instead.

8. Avoid cheap plastic accessories

Instead of buying little plastic dreidels and disposable menorahs, go for high-quality, handmade items. The up-front cost might be higher, but the environmental footprint, especially if the items are passed down through the generations, is much lower.

Originally published on December 12, 2017, this article was updated in December 2022.

By Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of publications, covering everything from sustainability to fitness to travel. Read more of her work here.