Keeping it Green During the Holidays

As we move into the Holiday season it is important to continue thinking about living sustainably. This time of year is typically defined by decadence and consumption. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Here are some helpful tips on how to stay green while getting into the Holiday spirit.

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  • Use newspaper, cloth, or old wrapping paper and bags to wrap your gifts. If you must use paper, make sure it is paper that can be recycled. Traditional wrapping papers contain heavy metals, which make them difficult to recycle. Also, be gentle on the paper! If you open with care along the seams it should be able to be used again.
  • Instead of buying holiday cards, make your own! This can be an especially fun thing to do with the kiddos and the possibilities for creativity are endless. To be even greener, send E-cards, which have no carbon footprint at all.
  • Try to stay clear of holiday lights – they are a major energy drain. If you must have them though, make sure they are LEDs. These lights last about 10 times longer than conventional lights and use 80% less electricity. Even better, turn the lights off before bed or put them on a timer so they aren’t running all night when nobody is looking.
  • Buy your gifts locally. This both gives back to the community, and reduces carbon emissions since these products aren’t being shipped all over the world.
  • Buy a real tree. This may seem counterintuitive because plastic trees can be used year after year. Despite being marketed as reusable, most people only use the plastic trees for a few years before the end up in a landfill. Moreover, these “trees” are made of harmful PVC plastics that refuse to break down for over a hundred years. Tree farms tend to be sustainable practices that increase oxygen in the environment and support small farmers. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of pine in their house!
  • To get the best of both worlds buy a potted tree, which can be used for a few years! Once it gets too big for its pot, either repot it or plant it outside. This adds to the landscape of your yard and offsets the reduction in oxygen caused by cutting trees down.
  • Recycle, reuse, and compost everything you can during the holidays, even if it takes more time and thought. Many cities have sites you can take your tree to be mulched. Make sure to check if yours is one.

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Finally, remember to take time to get outside and enjoy nature. As the temperatures drop, it can be easy to forget all the wonderful outdoor activities the Winter offers. Go sledding in the new fallen snow, or take a nature walk where you make a list of all the birds you see in the bare trees. After spending some time outside you’ll appreciate the warmth of your home that much more. Just don’t forget to layer!