Dreaming of a Green Christmas
I love Christmas. In spite of the way it is shoved down our throats with the music and lights starting weeks before Thanksgiving, and in spite of the blatant commercialism and de-secularization of one of the most prominent Christian holidays, I still love Christmas. I love the carols. I love the food. I love, love, love the decorations. I love the spirit. But as much as I love Christmas, my husband makes me look like a rank amateur. He would have me put up decorations even earlier than the department stores if he had his way. We have a small home and yet he still finds a way to put up not one, not two, but three trees. He has practically memorized our A Christmas Story DVD and a leg lamp sits on his night-stand year round. In spite of how much we love this glorious holiday, I find there are some things about it that, to the green at heart, can be disheartening. The trash, the wattage, the excess. I find myself dreaming of a green Christmas. So, I set out on a quest this year, this first Christmas since I started writing the Green Piece. I want to share some ideas that can make Christmas more eco-friendly without losing an ounce of the merry or the ho-ho-ho that my husband adores.
"It takes a little more thought and preparation, but the preservation of our environment is worth it. This holiday season think about getting in the 'nice' column by helping Santa go as green as mistletoe. I wish everyone Merry Recycling and a Happy New Planet!"
Let's start with the obvious. While gift giving is a wonderful symbol of the season, gift giving means gift wrapping. Between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans throw away an extra million tons of garbage each week thanks to holiday wrapping paper and ribbon. So why not recycle your holiday wrapping paraphernalia? If every package wrapping person re-used just two feet of ribbon this holiday season the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved would be long enough to tie a big pretty bow around the earth. Cool, huh? Use gift bags which tend to be easier to store and re-use. I actually have gift bags that are at least 6 years old and they are still going strong. Use shredded mail and newspaper to stuff your bags and pad your boxes instead of tissue paper. It looks cute and puts junk mail to good use.
There is a very close debate on the topic of fake or fir. Trees, of course. Most cut Christmas trees are now grown on tree farms so there is no damage to the planet's forestation. So if you love the smell and feel of real fir, you can enjoy pretty much guilt free. As for fakes? They do use a fair amount of energy and petroleum based products for their production. However, you save gas otherwise burned during an annual tree shopping expedition. And once the holiday is over, you do not have to face the disposal dilemma. Cut fresh trees can take up a lot of space in a landfill. If you use a cut tree it is better to grind it into wood-chips that can be used for mulch.
Once your tree is selected and in it's tree stand, the lighting issue is the next hurdle. Fortunately this is a pretty easy solve. LED Christmas lights are 95% more efficient than incandescent lights, release very little heat, and burn for over 200,000 hours. In the event that one light goes out the rest keep burning, so no more hunting through an entire string of lights trying to find the bad bulb. These fabulous light strings can be bought in all shapes and sizes and are available in colored or white just like traditional strings. You can even get icicle lights to decorate the exterior of your home. HolidayLEDS.com is a great website to find any Christmas light you desire.
The Merry in Christmas.
And finally, in terms of gift giving, in a Christmas green-scape, less is more. Think in terms of giving an experience rather than just loading more stuff into a stuff filled world. Memory makers can include tickets to the theater or a ballgame. Plan and give a special family outing. A gift certificate for a massage or a private lesson or two in an area of interest will make a lasting impression while using minimal resources. Or look for locally made gifts at craft fairs or artisan shops. Give battery-free gifts as discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Try and choose gifts from recycled sources. There are tons of exciting, fun, and chic recycled gifts to be found on-line.