Monday, December 7, 2009
Greening Your Holidays
The holidays are a time of joy and thanksgiving and this year, you can also make it a time of renewal for the planet. Without going to too much trouble, you can implement several green aspects into your holiday preparations and celebrations.
Technology to Save Energy: You are going to be on the computer anyway, so consider sending holiday greetings to family and friends via e-mail. For lots of holiday fun, check out Elf Yourself to turn yourself and family members into elves for the holidays—virtually.
Reuse It: If you prefer to send handwritten notes, make your own cards with paper you already have. Or look for holiday cards printed on recycled paper. Eliminate envelope waste by sending postcards or folding and sealing notes so you can address them on the outside. Every bit of paper you save, really adds up and it saves you money on postage!
Recycled Party: When hosting holiday parties, use reusable glass or plastic ware, and recycled paper napkins. Marcal Small Steps products are made from 100% recycled paper rather than from trees, making your party oh-so-eco-chic and festive. At Biodegradable Store, you can find various biodegradable paper plates and cutlery to keep your party green through and through.
Bag It: Lately everyone seems to be remembering their reusable grocery bags at the grocery store, but we also need to carry our own canvas bag or backpack, or reuse shopping bags when shopping for gifts and holiday decorations. One smart choice is Chico Bag’s new rePETe bag made from seven plastic bottles that would ordinarily end up in landfills; instead, they’re put to good use in this reusable tote that can carry up to 25 pounds of gifts, food and other goodies.
Non-Material: Any mother will tell you that she’d prefer receiving gifts of your time or services. Consider a free breakfast in bed or perhaps a lunch date. Save valuable resources and share some quality time with a loved one. Consider gift certificates—for restaurants, movies, babysitting, etc.—or give consumable items such as baked goods.
Give What Is Needed: Resist the urge to spend money on fad gifts that may not even be used; instead, give gifts that are on someone’s list and are possibly made locally or in the US. This approach results in happy gift recipients and a happy planet (less waste).
Re-gifting Is Not a Crime: Pass along hand-me-downs and heirlooms as special gifts for family members. These are also called “story gifts” because they carry stories with them, and often invoke treasured memories. Share a story and some history with a loved one!
It’s a Wrap: According to the Medical University of South Carolina, waste output increases 25 percent during the holiday season. When wrapping gifts, consider re-using packaging from previous years or maybe even use the funny pages from the newspaper or use recycled wrapping paper. Get creative and use unique containers to hold gifts, such as cloth sacks or boxes from other products. Save countless trees and give your creativity muscle a boost!
Ever-Green: Everyone loves the smell of fresh cut holiday trees, however, Consider alternatives to a cut tree, such as a live tree, decorated houseplant or artificial tree. To maintain that reminiscent evergreen odor, consider tree-scented air fresheners or candles. Check out EarthKind for some eco-friendly options. Also, remember to recycle your Christmas tree when you can no longer use it. Many neighborhoods have tree recycling programs.
Decorate with Nature: Use natural items from around the house to decorate your tree, such as popcorn, berries and outdoor greens. Mother Nature will be so proud!
Buy Energy-Saving “LED” Holiday Lights: Now you can decorate your house with LED lights that use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights, and can save your family up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season. LED lights are available at many major retailers, including Target, CostCo and Ace Hardware.
Buy Organic or Locally-Grown Produce: And cook at least some vegetarian meals—make the most out of food resources and fuel. Support local family farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Not only does it taste better, you’ll be doing your part for the planet too. Consider preparing food that does not have to be refrigerated to lower the amount of power wasted by continually opening and closing the fridge. Give away untouched leftovers and unwanted gifts. Others less fortunate than you could be very appreciative of these re-given gifts.
Fair-Trade Chocolate: Fill your stockings with Fair-Trade Chocolate and you can eat your way to a better planet. Consider Divine Chocolate, whose mission is to improve the livelihood of smallholder cocoa producers in West Africa by establishing their own dynamic chocolate brand.
Cool House: Take a pledge this New Years’ to reduce your home energy use by buying energy-efficient light bulbs. Installing only six compact fluorescent light bulbs will save the average American family $60 per year. If there’s a fire in your fireplace this Christmas, turn down that thermostat—lowering the temperature even five degrees can take 10 percent off your energy bill.