Have A Green Christmas: Tips for Making Your Christmas More Environmentally Friendly!
Who doesn’t love Christmas? Beautiful lights, shiny packages with elegant bows, and lots of parties to share the joy of the season among friends and family. After the presents are opened, there are piles of wrapping paper, yards of ribbons, lots of plastic packaging and dry Christmas trees ready to go to the curb.
Each year after Thanksgiving, waste per household increases by 25%--that means more than 1 million tons of additional waste each week. Here are a few other eye-popping facts about waste during the Christmas season:
• In the US, annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags total 4 million tons.
• Each year 50 million Christmas trees are purchased and 30 million wind up in the landfill.
• Half of the paper consumed in the United States is to gift-wrap or decorate.
• If each family in the United States re-used just two feet of holiday ribbon, that would save enough to wrap a bow around the entire planet!
But, here’s the good news. You don’t have to sacrifice your favorite traditions to enjoy a green Christmas and make a difference. Here are some tips for how you and your family can make a few different choices to make your Christmas a bit friendlier for the environment.
• Buy a live tree still with its root ball or in a pot. You can find these at a local nursery or Christmas tree farm. Once Christmas is over, you can replant it in the wilderness or simply put it outside in its pot until you are ready to decorate it again next year! And, clean up will be a snap since you won’t have all those dry needles dropping off the tree.
• Decorate your tree with found or other natural objects. Seashells, pine cones (you can even spray paint these silver or gold), paper chains from last year’s wrapping paper, popcorn and cranberry garland, or come up with your own ideas!
• Switch to LED lights. They use 75-90% less energy than traditional Christmas lights and last 10 times longer. And, remember to switch them off at night—you can’t enjoy their glow while you are sleeping.
• Wrap your presents with newspaper, magazines or old maps, your artistic masterpieces from school, or use cloth gift bags instead of paper gift bags.
• Make gift tags out of last year’s Christmas cards.
• Become a ribbon snatcher! Save all those beautiful bows and ribbons for wrapping next year’s gifts.
• Send an e-card for your annual holiday greeting to friends and family. A great way to save time and paper!
• Use your feet! Don’t get in the car to rush around buying presents or looking at holiday light displays. Instead, use your feet and walk through the neighborhood together, admiring the decorations. Or, hop on your bike and buy locally.
• Give gifts of experience or time. Offer to baby sit, run errands for a neighbor, make a meal for a friend, teach someone a special skill you have—knitting, photography, painting, or gardening. Or, buy tickets or gift certificates: a sporting event, a concert, and a spa or mani/pedi day. The memories you create with these kinds of gifts might even be more enduring than a traditional Christmas gift.
• Ditch the disposable plates and use your finest! Real plates, cloth napkins, and your own utensils are much healthier for the environment and give your party or celebration a more elegant feel.
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