How to Have Yourself a Merry “Green” Christmas
By Amy Lignor
Yes, the turkey is carved and eaten and those awesome decorations are beginning to crop up around the neighborhood, as well as in your very own living room. This is the time of year where everyone smiles just a bit more, as family and friends get together and remember how wonderful family and friends really are.
But there are also ways to remember how wonderful everything around us is. The Great Outdoors takes its toll, as we well know, but when the Christmas bells are jingling and Santa is on his way, there are a variety of things we can do to make our “green” world even “greener” – even if it is covered in white. From gifts to food to energy usage – all the way to choosing that mighty Christmas tree – being environmentally conscious is a huge contribution we can give to the world while enjoying every inch of it.
First, look at all the unique gifts out there. Yes, the world of cellphones, computers, video games – all the electronics – hold a high place on the list for most buyers. But there is a whole other category that not only saves cash, but also provides help to small businesses and gives back to the environment. From bamboo bath towels to curly lamps to recycled LP’s that have become a very cool salad set, this Christmas “green” shopping is a whole lot of fun. There are a variety of lists on the Internet and in magazines promoting sustainable designs and “green” living items that make fantastic Christmas gifts for the ones we love.
When it comes to Mother Nature there are other things we can do to decrease our very own environmental footprint, especially when it comes to the ‘cleaning up’ factor. For those who don’t know, one million extra tons of trash is made around the holidays (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency); the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, trash rises by 25%. Therefore, using recyclable wrapping paper can do a great deal to help.
Inside the home, lower the thermostat just a tad. Chances are you certainly won’t feel the cold, considering the company coming over and the stove that will continually be on while baking those awesome sweets and treats for the holidays.
When it comes to lights – as most of us know – there are houses out there that are simply stunning. There are also those that light up so bright that it would be surprising if our friends on Mars didn’t see it. So having a design that allows to cut back on those house and yard lights would help. And choosing to decorate with the LED lights is a must, considering they can use 90% less energy than regular holiday lights.
Heading to Costco or Sam’s is a great idea when the list of food is made. Buying in bulk instead of single packages of, say…soda, baking supplies, and snacks, reduces package waste and also the hit on your own wallet. Not to mention, think about serving less meat on the menu this year. Chicken, pork, most especially, beef, take a heavier toll on the environment than fruits and veggies. Cows actually produce high amounts of methane, which is worse for global warming than carbon dioxide. So as not to serve the platters of meat side by side, try to switch out at least one with those heart-healthy veggies.
And the biggest Christmas treat? The tree. This time out, support those small business Christmas tree farms and get yourself a real tree. Then recycle it. Before wondering if cutting a real tree actually harms the environment by deforestation, it is important to know that’s not the case. Most Christmas trees are grown expressly for Christmas and can be planted or composted when Santa says “so long” for the year. Plastic trees, however, take petroleum to create and then are very hard to recycle. So having that little piece of fragrant, beautiful Mother Nature in the home is a gift that everyone can enjoy!