Ideas For A Green Christmas
It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Be Green
What’s not to love about Christmas? The smells, the pretty lights and decorations, many times Christmas is somewhat nostalgic for people as it may reawaken warm memories of childhood. All these great memories may also bring the not so great things about the holiday season such as the annoying traffic, the crowded supermarkets and malls, the stress of money woes and the pressure of gift giving. Sometimes Christmas can be a burden on people. Well it can also be a burden to the environment as well.
Between the days from Thanksgiving through New Years the United States produces 25% more waste than any other time of year. 1 million pounds of cans, bottles, bows, greeting cards, boxes, junk mail, catalogs, and gift wrap are just some of the things that are contributing factors. Here I will give some simple creative examples of how to gift green, decorate, and dispose green.
Tip #1 – Giving Green
Most likely you will feel compelled to buy your family something really special this year. So many of my friends and myself included, may go out to the mall around this time of year aimlessly searching for that perfect gift for mom or dad not having anything particular in mind. A lot of the time you may leave the store empty handed and frustrated that you couldn’t find anything thoughtful enough or within a certain price range. In this economy giving green is definitely an under rated way of showing you care to your loved ones. Here are some eco friendly gift ideas.
Give the gift of a membership- Purchase a membership to a gym, sport center, maybe tickets to a football game, guitar or kayaking lessons for dad. A membership to an art museum, tickets to the ballet or theatre for your artsy pal, Pilates or dance lessons for your sister. Other great ideas to consider are a spa day, massage and or facials, coupons for babysitting or a free car wash. All of these require virtually no wrapping, therefore, less waste and little to no driving. Many can be purchased online all the while eliminating emissions from driving around and the stress of parking and large crowds. Keep it simple, easy, and thoughtful.
If you do feel the need to face the holiday crowds or just love the thrill of shopping (some do) than consider shopping locally. Buying local helps sustain and grow your community and reduce emissions. You might also think about giving green to promote green giving. Some gift ideas for that could be a stylish reusable water bottle, organic clothing, making a gift basket of your favorite organic items like organic chocolate, all natural soaps and lotions or teas & coffee.
Tip #2 – Artificial Christmas Trees vs Real Christmas Trees
There is a lot of misconception out there that buying a fake tree is the eco friendly way to go when a lot of these trees come from China and are made of a non biodegradable material (PVC). Some of the older artificial trees may even contain harsh chemicals such as lead. After quite a few Christmas’s they lose their luster and end up in the trash anyways. Then off to the landfill they go, where they will live for centuries to come.
If the thought of chain sawing down a beautiful tree just erks you out, you can participate in what I think is the truest green way to Christmas tree shopping; buy a living potted tree and re-plant it after the holidays. Although some people may not have the outdoor space for it in their backyard, you can also donate it to your local parks department for replanting.
The number one way most of us acquire a tree is by going to our local tree farm and picking one out. I would say this is the second best for the environment. Some may call it tree cycling. After Christmas these trees end up on the side of your curb waiting for the trash guy to haul it away. Thankfully, most of these trees are being recycled (about 93%) through about 4,000 recycling programs. The trees that once lit up the homes of millions of Americans will then be chipped into mulch and used in landscaping, gardening, hiking trails, paths, and walkways. They may also be used for beachfront erosion prevention, lake and river shoreline stabilization. It goes through the true full circle of life.
Tip #3 – Wrapping and Cards
As much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume every year goes toward packaging, wrapping and decorating goods. Also, wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S.
Here are a few ideas of things you can use around the house to wrap gifts this year. Now is the perfect time to save those cookie tin containers or any other card board box. Whether it be a cereal box or a box of crackers you can be surprised how unforgettable and funky these can make as wrapping materials. Some other materials you may have lying around might include some old sheet music, magazine ads, brown paper bags, comics, old scarfs, or newspaper clippings. You can use actual popcorn instead of packing peanuts! It’s a great way to get the family together to do something fun and that’s great for the environment. You will also find it’s financially friendly as well. Consider an E-card for a Christmas card or a good old fashioned phone call! It’s free, thoughtful, and personal.
Tip #4 – Ecological Decorating
As you drive by your block at night you might be in awe at how some of your neighbors have truly went all out this year with hundreds of string lights and mechanical snowmen wreaths etc. But remember less is more. Not only is it costly to compete with your fellow neighbors in the best dressed house but its harmful to the environment. But what would Christmas be without decorations and lights? Well here are a few ideas of ways to decorate while being cost effective and eco friendly.
Purchase LED string lighting. They are eco friendly and while they may cost a little more, LEDs tend to stay lit for the lifetime of the product, which means fewer to no replacements. Plus, there’s no heat transfer so they’re safer to use on any living or faux foliage.
I find that instead of purchasing new decorations you can always find a plentiful at your local thrift store or neighborhood garage sales. But if you’re feeling crafty there are many “do it yourself” videos on the net to make some very clever and inspiring homemade decorations.
Hopefully this may have equipped you with some new ideas of ways to conserve resources and cut down on polluting the landfills this holiday season. Don’t become a part of the staggering statistics. Be the change you want to see in the world during the most magical time of the year!
Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by [lauren nelson] on Flickr.
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