Nothing makes me feel quite as sad as the trash collection days that immediately follow Christmas Day. It’s pretty rare that our trash can is even full, and yet I see such an abundance of trash up and down our street as people bring their cast offs to the end of the driveway, waiting for the trash collector to come and haul it all away. Bags and bags of torn wrapping paper, bows and torn cardboard gift boxes; oversized cardboard boxes that once held toys and gadgets that are now being enjoyed by the recipients of the gifts; and the saddest of all…the now, unwanted Christmas trees with pieces of tinsel still hanging from the branches. It’s enough to make me cry.
Instead of creating all that waste, here are some ideas to make your Christmas holiday more GREEN. You can still celebrate, give and share with your loved ones, without the negative impact on the environment.
1. Christmas Tree. If you must buy an artificial tree, do your research and be willing to spend the money on one that will last for a really long time (we’re talking 20 years here). Artificial Christmas trees have come a long way and, if cared for and stored properly, you can buy one when your baby is born and still be using it when he leaves for college! Don’t like artificial trees? Why not buy one (or several) potted Christmas trees? You can make them look festive and enjoy the fragrance throughout the entire holiday season. When you’re finished with them, they can be replanted in your yard or be given as a gift!
2. Lights. Nothing says festive quite like holiday lights, but not all holiday lights are created equal. Remember the days when one unlit bulb meant the entire strand had to be thrown away? LED strands of lights are a much better alternative for a variety of reasons.
First, you don’t have to discard the entire strand if one bulb goes bad. Second, there are 90% less CO2 emissions and they use much less energy, saving you money. Finally, they don’t emit the amount of heat that their incandescent counterparts do, making them safer. Although they are a bit more expensive, they are stronger and last 10 times longer than other lights, making them more economical.
3. Gifts. Many people still put the latest fashions and gadgets on their wish lists. But there are many creative gift giving ideas that don’t cost as much money and don’t create waste. Are you creative? Why not write a song, create a poem, or pen a heartfelt letter to someone you love on beautiful stationery? If you are a good cook or baker, why not create some mouth-watering dishes or treats for a friend or relative? You can frame a drawing, painting, or even a favorite picture from a trip you once took. How about a “coupon” good for a lunch date, babysitting services, or a “night in”, complete with food, drink and a movie? Often times, the most special gifts are not store bought.
4. Wrapping. Try wrapping in pretty cloths that can double as festive napkins. Use reusable containers that you can find at almost any store. One year, we bought each of the kids (we had 2 at the time) large containers with lids. One was red, the other green. And when they lifted the lids, all of their gifts were inside….unwrapped. And that was just fine with them! You can also add a decorative pinecone or evergreen branch to add a festive touch.
My hope is that one day more and more people will discover greener ways to enjoy the holidays. Not only will our celebrations be more rich and full, but we can make reduce the waste and take steps toward a healthier planet! And that is something to celebrate!