Greening the Holidays

Once again the holidays are upon us, so it seems like a good time to review my post from a year ago, which explored various ways to make your holidays ‘green’..

Let’s begin with the Christmas tree. You may be asking yourself which is kinder to the environment, a real tree or a fake one that can be re-used from year to year? Keep in mind that an artificial tree is made almost entirely from plastics – nonrenewable petroleum by-products that can’t be recycled. Many are imported from China, which affects transportation and consumption of fossil fuels. Ideally, the preference is for using what’s grown or manufactured locally.

One alternative is to plant a living tree, one that grows in a pot and can be re-planted later. So remind yourself that while it can seem wasteful to have a living tree from one year to the next, it is actually more beneficial to the environment.

Then there is the matter of our energy-consuming holiday lights. I highly recommend switching to LEDs (light-emitting diodes) which are at least 90% more energy efficient than regular incandescent bulbs. Cool to the touch, they also pose less of a fire hazard, and will last for thousands of hours longer than incandescent bulbs. LEDs are now widely available in many different colors, shapes and sizes, and can be found at your local retailer.

As an added bonus, you will save electricity and enjoy a lower electrical bill!

Last but not least is the issue of gift wrap. Should you buy new, or re-cycle wrappings and gift bags from previous years? The choice is entirely yours. I recently came up with what I thought could be a terrific idea for wrapping gifts, which is to purchase in-expensive, re-cycled plastic or fabric shopping bags – the kind you buy at most grocery stores to haul your groceries home instead of paper bags or plastic. The recipient would receive two gifts in one, the gift inside the bag, plus the bag itself.

Yet is seems my idea wasn’t so original afterall. If you visit the Whole Foods website, you will find the exact same suggestion.  

The bottom line with all of this:  do what feels comfortable, and what makes sense, for you!