Why spend your holiday dreaming of a white Christmas when, with a little creativity, you can dream of a green one? With these six simple steps, you and your family can make this holiday season an eco-friendly one.
1. Dim the Lights!
Christmas spirit doesn’t mean you need to out-shine Chevy Chase with colored lights from Thanksgiving on. There are plenty of creative, beautiful ways you can capture the season’s cheer without wasting all that electricity. Try simple, no-light paper lanterns, string some popcorn, or use metal containers with candles (not near the tree). If you truly must have lights up, don’t leave them on all the time, pick an hour to enjoy them and unplug them when you’re done. Consider lowering the time frame if you have an automatic timer for outdoor lights and use energy-efficient bulbs.
2. Wrap Less
According to Robert Lilienfeld, author of the book, “Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are,” Americans throw away approximately one million extra tons of garbage each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, including holiday packaging and wrapping. So reuse your gift wrap, gift bags and ribbon. And consider creative ways to use various recycled materials (such as decorated paper bags) for wrapping, as well as methods where you need little to no wrapping, such as baskets or fabric that can double as part of the present.
3. Get a Real Tree
Some people believe getting a real tree for Christmas each year is harmful to the environment. However, the majority of real Christmas trees that are purchased at retail stores are grown in tree farms. Therefore, they are not being cut down from nature’s surplus of trees. Aside from the wonderful holiday tradition it can be to visit an actual Christmas tree farm for the holidays, and help the local economy, you are actually doing a favor to the earth by avoiding the chemicals and waste that are perpetuated by the manufacturing process of producing fake trees, which are also not bio-degradable.
4. Recycle Your Tree!
Not only are you doing a good deed by buying a real Christmas tree, but there are fun ways to recycle your tree that help nature too! When you are done with your tree, put it outside, fill it with bird seed, and provide a wonderful haven for your backyard feathered friends! In the spring, you can either mulch up your tree into woodchips for landscaping purposes, or cut it up for easy campfire wood to bring to a warmer season’s bonfire.
5. Save Last Year’s Christmas Cards for Crafts
When you pack up the holiday décor, slide in the season’s holiday cards and envelopes. Not only will it be fun to re-read them as you unpack ornaments the following year, but it also presents you with the creative opportunity to easily recycle them into paper snowflake crafts or other holiday decorations.
6. Give More, Consume Less
Most importantly, give more of yourself this season--through your time and energy, thoughtful gestures and activities that build memories and relationships—and consume less-- of wasteful products, shopping, and throw-away junk. There’s no better way to enjoy the real reason for the season than to let go of wasteful material and embrace increased devotion to your family, friends and community.