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Green Holidays: 10 Easy Tips

November 15, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Green holidays

Simply wrapped gifts

This year, instead of a white Christmas, why not strive for green? Eco-friendly, green holidays, that is. Whether you’re into Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas or something else, there’s a common theme that can run through all holidays: a near complete lack of regard for the environment.

The obligatory over-consumption of the holiday season has a price that goes way beyond the credit card balance you’ll be paying until March. This year, why not scale back just a bit and save some energy, trees, landfill space, money and sanity in the process?

1. Buy less – Notice I did not say “give less.” If you’re into giving, there are scads of ways to do so without buying products that will likely end up one day in a landfill. Try giving experiences instead: a gift certificate for a nice lunch out or a spa treatment for a good friend. I once bought a guy I was dating a series of classes so he could become SCUBA certified. Although we didn’t end up together, that gift will give him joy each and every time he goes diving.

 Yep, judicious re-gifting is A-OK! Just keep them in separate social circles.


2. Re-gift as appropriate – Don’t re-gift within a small social circle, but if you’ve received something that you’re not going to use, think about who can use it. A perfect gift means that the giver is thoughtful enough to match the gift with the recipient, and it doesn’t need to be brand new.

3. Consider a live tree – Fake trees are made from petrochemicals that last forever – whether they remain in your home or in a landfill. Live trees are a renewable resource. They are sustainably farmed, improve air quality while they are growing, and can be mulched after the holidays to make a great soil amendment.

Green Holidays

Sustainably farmed Christmas trees

4. Use LED lighting – If you haven’t already done so, consider scaling back your Griswold-style lighting display and switch to LED lighting. It’s 90% more efficient, saving energy and money.

5. Homemade gifts – Try making some gifts rather than buying. For food-loving friends, try a tasty  and elegant gift like a nicely packaged jar of seasoned roasted nuts or boozy infused spirits. You can also package up spice blends and create a pretty card to attach with a recipe.

6. Re-engineer your gift wrap – Avoid gift wrap with metallic finishes since they aren’t biodegradable. Try an elegant but understated look with 100% post-consumer and fully-recyclable brown kraft or butcher paper tied with simple yarn or twine.

7. Skip holiday cards – I just dare you!  I used to send holiday cards, and most of my list was made up of people who I either: a) still liked but never talked to, b) didn’t really like anymore or c) people I really liked and talked to all the time.  Here’s how I broke the card cycle: I picked up the phone. For the people I sincerely wanted to reach out to, I simply called to catch up and they loved it! In some cases, it rekindled friendships and reopened lines of communication far better than a card ever could. I read somewhere that the amount of cards sold in the US each holiday season kills more than 300,000 trees! I’m not sure if this is true, but the point is that we don’t need to kill so many trees for something of debatable social value that will be thrown out.

Green Holidays

My kinda shopping cart!

8. Shop online – Avoid contact with militant, frazzled shoppers while saving gas and time. Put on your sweatpants and some holiday music, get a glass of wine, and enjoy a stress-free experience. You’ll spend less too since you won’t be tempted with all the brilliant retail tricks that get you to buy more.

9. Feast smart – For your holiday meals, shop local first. Hit up winter farmers markets for salad greens, spinach and storable root veggies like potatoes, squash, beets, and turnips. Pre-order pastured meats and poultry from local farms. The flavor will be unbeatable, and you’ll be making a smart choice for the environment.

10. Reward yourself – Having a green holiday isn’t difficult, but it will require some changes in your mindset. To remind yourself about why you’re making these changes, grab your sweetie and head out for a brisk winter nature walk to appreciate how beautiful the world looks at this time of year. Find a new hiking trail, go bird watching, or go for a horseback trail ride.



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Category: General, Green Living

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