Holidays can pose a challenge to the environmentally-minded- disposable decorations, twinkly lights, and chopped down trees. It’s hard to get through the holidays (and find a parking spot at the mall) without having to feel eco-guilt on top of all that stress. So here’s a list with some easy green changes you can make this holiday season
Eco Tips for a Green Christmas:
- Get romantic. Much of the holiday season revolves around lights and electricity, but there’s no rule that says twinkly has to come from a light switch. For a romantic holiday sparkle, think candles. Choose renewable and biodegradable materials (beeswax, vegetable, soy) over traditional paraffin wax candles, which are petroleum based.
- Create your own ornaments. If you’re just starting out your ornament collection, and feeling the need to run to Target to load up on baubles and bells to adorn the tree, STOP! A few dollars is all you’ll need. Buy a pack of ornament hooks and pocket the rest of the money you planned to spend, because your home is filled with items just begging to be re-imagined into ornaments: baby booties, PEZ dispensers, Barbie clothes, earrings that are missing their partners, childrens’ toys, small stuffed animals, and more. Theme trees can be fun, too. Imagine a rock and roll tree covered with CD’s, jewel boxes and topped with a favorite record album cover!
- Make your own wreath. A DIY wreath offers a great opportunity to show some personality in your holiday decor. Imagine using old CD’s to make a wreath, treasures from your beach vacation, or sweet candies in fun color schemes. If you prefer the classic look, simply cut some of the branches off your Christmas tree and make your own wreath. That’s at least $25 that can be better spent this season. If you do spend money on a wreath, make it last the whole year. This wreath from McFadden Farm is made from fresh bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and chili peppers. A seasonal wreath, a year’s worth of seasoning.
- Switch to LED. LED lights use 80-90% less energy than conventional lightbulbs, and they last much longer, too. And it seems the price of LEDs have come down considerably. This string of multicolored LED Christmas lights from Target are only $9.
- Use power strips. If you have trouble remembering to turn out the lights before you leave the house, then the holiday season is only going to compound your electrical consumption. Do yourself (and your electrical bill) a favor: invest in power strips. Plug your decorations into one strip so you can turn off the one strip and go.
- Wrap it up (I’ll take it!). Wrapping paper can be beautiful, but the sheer amount of trees necessary to produce it makes it a little more difficult to love. Add to that the fact that most wrapping paper is not recyclable (due to the dyes, non-paper additives, glitter, etc.) and well, let’s just say we’re just not that into you, wrapping paper. Luckily the amount of potential wrapping materials is only limited by your imagination: reuse brown paper bags (pretty it up with holiday stamps like the pic shown here!), newspaper (the funnies are especially good for kids), leftover fabric, and more.
- Christmas trees, only better. If you’re into live trees, find one that was grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Even better, get a potted tree that can be replanted afterward. Trees can be recycled into mulch after the holidays. Check with your local recycling center or search for a recycling center on Earth911.
- That’s one less card to hang. We have competing feelings about sending hoiday cards. On the one hand, there’s comfort in tradition. On the other hand, it’s expensive, time-consuming, feels like we’re always scrambling once December begins, and then there’s the stress of forgetting someone. This year save on the cost of the cards and stamps, and send an e-card instead. Care2 has over a hundred great cards to choose from and for every e-card sent, Care2 makes a donation to an environmental nonprofit to save a square foot of rainforest.
- Recycle, recycle, and oh, recycle. Cardboard boxes, wrapping paper (ensure it is suitable for recycling), gift bags, cards, tissue paper, and “recycle” all of those fruit and vegetable scraps into compost. Another tip: those gift cards you receive are made of PVC and recyclable. Once you’ve used it up, recycle it.
- Shop online. Shopping online means one less car on the road, while allowing you to easily and quickly search for the best price.