8 Tips on How to Have a Green Christmas

59The trappings of the holidays add to the festive air and the excitement of the season.  However, the amount of post-holiday trash grows every year.  Americans throw out 900,000 metric tons of garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day each week!  With a little planning, you can still enjoy the season without adding to the mounds of garbage heading to the landfills every January.  A few ideas:

1.  Invest in a Live Tree
It takes from seven to ten years to grow a Christmas tree.  It’s a crime to waste all that time and all those resources for three weeks’ enjoyment of a cut tree.  Instead, opt for a live evergreen that can be replanted in your garden once the holiday season has passed.

2.  Wrap Gifts with Everyday Items
Wrapping paper’s only function is to be thrown away once gifts are opened.  Better alternatives include using old maps, colorful magazine ads, the comic section of newspapers, and last year’s holiday paper.

3.  Shop Locally
Buying food, gifts and decorations that are produced and sold in your area saves the fuel and labor necessary to transport these items across the country.

4.  Opt for Low-Energy Lights
LED holiday lights are now 90% more energy-efficient than traditional lights.  Even if you can’t afford to replace all of your lights at once, make it a point of buying LED lights when you replace a strand.

5.  Avoid Disposable Dinnerware
Paper plates, plastic cups and plastic cutlery make for an easy clean-up, but they add appreciably to the holiday waste.  Use ceramic or stoneware plates instead and reduce the number of courses and/or enlist the teenagers to help with the dishes.

6.  Buy In-Season Food and Produce
If turkeys are raised in your area, order your holiday bird early and pick it up directly from the farm.  The average meal in America travels 1,200 miles to get to your table.  Break the cycle of unnecessary fuel and refrigeration usage by buying food that’s in-season and grown locally for your holiday feasts.

7.  Use Natural Decorations
Instead of going out and buying glass bulbs for your holiday tree, use natural decorations for all or part of the decor.  Strung cranberries and popcorn, pine cones and citrus fruit all create a lovely, welcoming atmosphere…and they are bio-degradable.

8.  Give a Living Gift
It’s not just the trappings that end up as trash.  Even many of the most loved gifts will eventually break or outlive their usefulness.  Instead of figuring out what to give as a Christmas gift, giving a gift of seeds and small trees that can be planted in the ground make wonderful gifts that will grow for years to come.

Being kind to the environment and conserving energy resources doesn’t have to be about large, grandiose gestures.  From hanging up the lights to exchanging gifts, the activities of the holiday season can be enjoyed with the planet’s well-being in mind.  Every small change helps.  Enjoy the holiday season and start a new tradition!

Image credit:  Lucyna Andrzejewska