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A Very Merry and Green Christmas

Posted on December 6, 2018 by Rachel Tardif There have been 0 comments

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, a time for friends and family to get together to celebrate. Close to mid-winter, it is a natural time to huddle by the fire and enjoy each other's company. Gift-giving is a great way to say thank you to all those people who are part of your life, but all that holiday spirit can take a big toll on the environment. Christmas can also be a time of great waste, if we’re not careful. So, to get you through the holiday season, here are a few ideas which will help you celebrate Christmas in true green style.

Eco-friendly Decorations

The Tree

Christmas trees are often the center of  holiday celebrations, the place where family gathers to decorate, sing, and open presents. This year, take the time to consider where your tree is coming from:

Commercially farmed – Every year Americans purchase around 35 million real Christmas trees, and at any given time there are upwards of 350 million Christmas trees growing on commercial farms. These trees have a positive ecological impact by sequestering carbon and providing wildlife habitat. They are also biodegradable and can be recycled into mulch for gardens and playgrounds or used as erosion barriers and habitat stabilizers. Most tree farms, however, rely on a combination of toxic pesticides and fertilizers to maintain high productivity and consistent-looking trees.

Environmentally-friendly tree farms – For a little bit more you can buy a Christmas tree grown on an environmentally friendly farm. Look for growers who use sustainable farming methods such as supporting biodiversity on farmland,  practicing soil and water conservation, and minimizing the amount of chemicals use for pest management. The Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers certifies farms that use environmentally sound practices.

Live Trees – Another option for an eco-friendly Christmas is to get a live, potted tree that can be planted when the holidays are over. If you don’t have a place to do the planting, ask the local parks department or a community organization if they take donations – your Christmas tree can become a source of shade and clean air in your neighborhood year round.

Artificial: Artificial trees are reusable, which means you won’t be contributing to landfill waste every year. However, most artificial trees are made from petroleum-based plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which are non-biodegradable, so when you do finally dispose of the tree it won’t be going anywhere. PVC also emits dangerous toxins when burned and is sometimes manufactured using lead or other metals that present a possible health hazard. In addition, the environmental cost of manufacturing and shipping artificial Christmas trees is high, so it’s best to avoid them. If you need an artificial tree, think about purchasing or building a wooden tree to show off your ornaments.

Lights

Lights are an integral part of the Christmas season: they go up on the tree in the living room, around your front door, or on the Santa dancing across your roof. All those lights use energy, so this year be smart with your Christmas lights. Chose LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs: they are just as bright but which use 90% less energy. Also, set your lights on a timer so they’re not on longer than necessary.

Ornaments

Decorate your tree with natural, eco-friendly ornaments. If you’re buying ornaments, avoid non-biodegradable plastics, and instead look for repurposed tree decorations and those made from recyclable or biodegradable materials. Making ornaments can be a fun family activity and a great way to teach your kids about environmentally responsibility. You can collect pine cones to decorate with eco-friendly paints, string popcorn garlands, or collect branches and berries to make your own wreaths.

Candles

Whether you’re decorating for a party or lighting your advent wreath, stay away from paraffin candles – they are petroleum-based, which means they are non-biodegradable and release toxic fumes when burned. Instead, use candles made from beeswax or a vegetable oil like soy. Beeswax candles emit a natural honey scent, while vegetable wax candles can be scented with essential oils for the holiday season.

Green Gifts

Gift Wrapping

Americans throw away around 4 million tons of wrapping paper and bags a year. So when you’re wrapping presents this year, look for recyclable paper that hasn’t been laminated or treated with glitter and plastic. Another option is to conceal presents in reusable gift bags. You can also repurpose regular stuff around your house like brown paper bags, newspapers, and colorful old magazines to use as wrapping.

Cards

Nearly 1.5 billion holiday cards are sent in the U.S. every year, and all those cards add up to a huge amount of waste. Instead of traditional cards, which are not usually recyclable, think about sending ecards or plantable cards this year.

Give Green

Give the gift of green this year by looking for eco-friendly gifts. Help your friends and family be environmentally conscious by giving them supplies to start a compost bin or garden and support local artists by buying locally-sourced and crafted gifts. For the friend who has everything, make a donation in his name to a favorite charity.

Reduce Holiday Waste

Choose reusable

Parties are one of the best things about the holidays, but this year try to avoid the giant pile of waste left behind when you use disposable cups, plates, and napkin. Instead, sacrifice a few hours of clean up by choosing reusable dinnerware.

Dressing Up Box

Have you a lot of old rather junky jewelry, old cosmetics, flamboyant clothing, uncomfortable high-heeled shoes, etc.? Do you have a little girl in the family who loves dressing up? Then sort out these items and make her a Dressing Up Box instead of shopping for new toys she’ll outgrow quickly.

Junk Art

But together a big box full of scraps of paper, pencils, pens, glue, silver foil, markers, glitter, and non-toxic paint to bring out after the presents are unwrapped to turn all those cardboard boxes and leftover wrapping paper into fun craft projects.


This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Green Tips and DIY, Holidays and was tagged with Green kids, green living, RECYCLED-UPCYCLED

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