It’s that time of year again! The Christmas season a wonderful time for visiting with family, making merry and embracing the spirit of giving. It can be a time of great warmth and joy, perfect for making special family memories. Unfortunately, it can also be an incredibly wasteful time, when individuals fail to consider the impact of their holiday festivities on the environment. Celebrating a green Christmas season doesn’t have to mean going without goodies or opting out of holiday traditions – it just requires a little bit of conscientious creativity. By following some green guidelines, you can help preserve the environment while also saving money! Here are a few ideas for a greener Christmas.
1. Cut Down on Your Gift Expenses:
Resist being sucked into the crass commercialism that now dominates the Christmas season. This holiday was not meant to be about having the biggest feast or exchanging the most expensive presents, but about togetherness and, originally, for religious devotion and introspection. Consider agreeing, as a family, to a rule like, “one Christmas present per person” to avoid over-consuming this season. Also, agreeing that all gifts will be handmade can cut down on waste and add a whole lot of personality to gift-giving.
2. A Greener Christmas Tree:
Nothing is more symbolic of the season than a festive, decorated evergreen. But how to enjoy it responsibly? The great Christmas tree debate revolves around the question of “artificial versus real.” Reusable artificial trees sound great in theory, mainly because in the world of environmentalism, chopping down trees for any reason is generally frowned upon. This is compounded by the fact that Christmas trees are usually discarded after a couple of weeks. However, artificial trees have a limited life-span, as they quickly go out of style or are damaged in storage. Also, many of them are made from non-renewable materials. The best way to responsibly enjoy a Christmas tree is to buy a living tree. The tree can be planted in your yard after the holidays, so you can beautifully decorate your home and then beautifully landscape your yard!
This brings us to a discussion on decoration. Avoid cheap plastic decorations from dollar stores. The materials are usually not of good quality and are often non-biodegradable. Decorations like this will also take up space in your closet for the other 11 months of the year. Try to keep it simple and DIY. Consider making your own decorations out of anything from used beer cans and light bulbs to recycled paper and cardboard. Stick to options which allow for materials to be recycled afterward. Paper decorations can even be used as fuel in the fireplace along with your yule log. Also consider homemade edible ornaments like candy canes, homemade cookies and stringed popcorn as well as natural outdoor items like acorns and pine cones.
4. Recycle Holiday Greeting Cards:
Odds are, you’ll be recieving holiday cards from your friends and family. Recycle these colorful cards by taping them around a doorframe, displaying them on a mantelpiece or creating a “card wreath” to hang on your wall. A relative of mine used to cut out the shapes of christmas trees and angels from the thick cardstock of greeting cards, punch a hole in those festive designs and make tree ornaments out of them with ribbon. Decorate your own tree in this way or attach them to wrapped presents as creative gift tags. If you’re sending cards this year, look for companies that make their cards with recycled paper.
5. Watch Energy Consumption
Christmas is not complete without plenty of twinkling, colorful lights. However, you should keep in mind ways to save energy when hanging lights. Remember to always turn them off whenever you go to sleep or leave the house. This will help save energy and go a long way toward preventing accidental fires.
6. Eat, Drink and Be Responsible:
As for the Christmas dinner table, try to buy and cook only as much as you need. Buy exact amounts of ingredients from your local bulk food store, to prevent the purchase of excess materials that will go bad and need to be thrown away. If you do find yourself over-buying, consider donating extra canned goods and non-perishables to the needy. Additionally, non-edible food waste could be added to your compost pile to eventually help fertilize the soil.
Remember, there is plenty you can do in order to have a more eco-friendly Christmas! It just takes some knowledge, creativity and some green holiday magic!