December 7, 2013

Dreaming of a 'Green' Christmas...

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to start looking for the perfect presents for your loved ones, planning decadent dishes for your dinner table and finding festive decor for your home. As we feast, give gifts, decorate and even travel during holiday season, we also consume lots of resources and generate lots of waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of household garbage in the US can increase by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day!

The holidays are special, but this year's festivities don't have to negatively impact our environment. There are a number of measures that we can all take to lessen the amount of trash we produce, the amount of time we spend on the road and ultimately, our impact on the environment. 

Green your holiday gifts

Support local! Instead of shopping in large box stores, shop at "mom and pop" stores in your area. Sometimes they have the best, and most unique, gifts.

Reuse gift wrap, tissue and bags from previous seasons, or switch to reusable gift wrapping such as fabric, newspaper and magazine pages, cloth bags, and twine. 

Buy items with minimal packaging and/or made with recycled content. Check product labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Also, don't forget your reusable bags!

Give experiences, not gifts. Tickets or passes to museums, aquariums, zoos, theatres, sports games and other attractions make great gifts! Maybe even think about making a donation to a local charity or adopting an endangered species in the person's name.

Make holiday cards from recycled materials or give an e-card. The EPA estimates that the amount of cards sold in the US during the holiday season are able to fill a football field 10 stories high and require the harvesting of nearly 300 000 trees! Scary! 

Green your holiday feast

Support local!  Did you know the average North American meal travels over 2,400 km from field to table?! Look for sustainable, seasonal and local ingredients when planning your holiday feast and feel the warmth of the season knowing that the food isn’t just good for the soul, but good for the environment too.

Use reusable dishware, drinkware and cutlery. While it may mean a little more cleaning if you don't have a dishwasher, it will help minimize the amount of waste. Think of the time spent doing the dishes, as time spent with family.

After dinner, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it. You will run fewer cycles, which saves energy.

Pack up leftovers and refrigerate or give take-home containers to your guests as they leave. Be sure to use reusable containers!

Be sure to separate your recyclables and your compostable material from the true garbage! The more material we divert from landfill, the better.

Green your holiday decor

Buy a real tree! Surprisingly, real trees are slightly better for the environment than plastic. Nearly all cut Christmas trees were grown on tree farms, which means their stock is replenished yearly and forests aren’t depleted. Not only have they been grown sustainably, most can be purchases locally. Plastic trees are made from PVC, may contain lead and often travel long distances before reaching your living room.

After the holidays, participate in your community's Christmas tree chipping program. This will minimize your footprint and help give back to the local community and the trails in your local parks. If a program like this is not available in your area, ensure you dispose of your tree properly.

Light up your home and tree with LED lights. These lights use 95% less electricity than conventional lights!

Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day or put them on a timer. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer, saving you money in the long run as well.

When packing up, use tissue and gift wrap to wrap-up your decor at the end of the season

However you celebrate this holiday season, please ensure it is joyous in spirit, but also gentle on the environment!

Do you have any tips you follow for greening your holidays? 

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  1. These are great ideas! It's easy to get carried away with all the gifts and food...

  2. I love this! I am all about shopping localling and going green this winter! Great tips.

  3. These are great tips, it is very interesting about the Christmas trees, I had never really thought about which option was more environmentally friendly!


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