The things that we’ve enjoyed and taken for granted as natural part of the Christmas holiday, are now being looked at through environmental eyes. Here are green Christmas ideas on how you can have an eco-friendly Christmas this year.
Green Christmas Lights
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if consumers replaced their conventional holiday lights with eco-friendly LEDs, at least TWO BILLION KILOWATT HOURS of electricity could be saved each month. The mini lights use 80 to 90 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last up to 20,000 hours. This energy savings could power 200,000 HOMES FOR ONE YEAR! They are also safer than the traditional bulbs, too. They are cooler to the touch so you don’t have to worry about the young children or pets touching them. Since LEDs are much improved this year in color, shapes, and quality, you may find a shortage if you wait for a good sale. Shop early!
Green Christmas Wrappings
To reduce packaging that is only torn and thrown away on Christmas morning, I now purchase cloth tote bags instead. I’ll place all the gifts to one person in one tote bag covering the top with a scarf, placemats, or something that will hide what is in the bag. Everything can be used, nothing thrown into the trash to go to the landfill.
Green Wish Lists
Share wish lists with those whom you exchange gifts. It is better for the environment if you give and receive gifts that are wanted, otherwise they just sit and then get tossed, unless you re-gift or sell them on eBay! Plan to exchange lists of 5 items within an agreed upon price limit. You can also agree on how many gifts you will give each other from the lists, say 2 or 3. That way there will be some surprise since you won’t know which ones you’ll receive.
Green Christmas Tree Decorations
Another green living Christmas idea we have this year is to make Christmas tree decorations using a cornstarch and flour dough. Instead of throwing them away, we’ll hang them on the trees outside after Christmas for the wildlife to enjoy. Don’t forget to string popcorn and berries for the birds, too.
Last Christmas a student gave me a candle that looked and felt like a wax candle, except it had an LED light inside and a switch on the bottom. Not only are LED candles safer, they burn much longer, too. If you place the LED candles in your windows this holiday season, you won’t have to worry about them burning out. This year I’ll be giving them as a present to my step-mother who lives in a senior community. Understandably, they aren’t allowed to have real candles in their apartments. She misses having candles lit on her dining room table. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come scented, too!
Green Christmas Trees
Live Christmas Trees
Make a dent in holiday waste this year by “recycling” your fresh Christmas tree after you are done celebrating.
Instead of taking up valuable space in landfills, where decay is painfully slow because of a lack of oxygen, Christmas trees can be readily ground into wood chips or made into useful compost. Considering that nearly 29 million households opted for a real Christmas tree in 2006, that’s a lot of wood chips!
To make it easy, the industry group National Christmas Tree Association has teamed up with Scottsdale, Arizona-based conservation group Earth911 to point consumers in the right direction with their trees. On their website, you can enter your zip code to find the nearest of 3,800-plus spots nationwide that accept old trees.
You can also opt to leave it in your backyard as shelter for winter wildlife or contact your town’s department of public works. They may pick your tree up for you and recycle it into mulch for the community.
Artifical Christmas Trees
We have used an artificial Christmas tree for years. The one we have now is our second. We thought an artificial tree to be the environmentally responsible way to go. We thought we were saving a tree each year that we used an artificial tree since we could reuse it over and over. In reality, artificial trees are made from mainly non-renewable plastics, often containing PVC, a petroleum derived plastic. They are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning their eventual disposal has a significant negative impact to the environment.
When our first artificial tree needed to be replaced, my husband made artificial wreaths from the branches giving the “tree” a longer life. If you want to help the environment this year and want to upgrade to a living Christmas tree, donate your old artificial tree to Goodwill or to a local community group. Join Freecycle.com. There may find a family in need of a Christmas tree in or near your community.