Green Sustainable Christmas
T'is the season for family and fun, but it can sometimes have a tendency to be a tad overwhelming and wasteful. With a little imagination and effort Christmas can be more sustainable and a little less of a headache. Here are some ideas to celebrate a little greener and purposeful this season. Showing love to your family and the planet!
Simply put, not all gifts have to be store bought. Give the gift of an experience or service instead of goods. You can give a gift certificate for a spa service, home cleaning, music lessons, car wash or an online cooking class. If you aren't able to spend too much money, why not offer your own services; like a fun IOU to do this months' chores, cutting the grass, dinner for a week or putting old photos into a photo album (I know my mom would love this last one)! These are great ways to give more meaningful gifts without breaking the bank.
However, if you are going to shop this season, try to shop small businesses. Check out local craft fairs and or artisan shops. At SOL TERRA SHOP we have all natural and sustainable products that can lower your carbon footprint.
CONNECT WITH NATURE
Why not create a new family tradition and connect with the Earth by taking a family nature walk or hike? Plan your outing before the holiday meal, while everyone still has lots of energy. The walk will also build up a good appetite for your feast. One on my favorite winter traditions is having a snowman making contest with the family. Pair up and give extra points for creativity!
Get lit this season with LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights. They use up to 90% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit, saving you hours of investigating work!
Another simple energy saver is turning off the tree lights an outdoor lighting at bedtime. It is such a waste to keep the lights on overnight while everyone is sleeping. If you are not in the game of turning the lights off manually before bed, most light strands come with timer or you can get an attachment timer.
Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice.
If you have a plastic one, the best thing to do is use the one you have until you can't use it anymore. Rather than throw it out and get a new one every year.
When your plastic/artificial tree has come to the end of its life, switch to a live tree. Live trees are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. The best part, live trees also smell like Christmas!
The number of cards sold in the US during the holiday season would fill a football field 10 stories high, and uses nearly 300,000 trees to make them! Crazy right?!
Making your own cards are more meaningful, use less waste, and is a fun activity for the family during the weeks before Christmas. Children’s art work is another good source for Christmas cards. Show that parent pride, by sending their artwork to family/friends.
In the US, the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals over 4 million tons. In Canada, the annual waste from gift wrap and shopping bags equals about 595,000 tons. If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.
It is really a lot easier than you think. Wrap gifts using comic strips from the newspaper, old calendars, maps or posters. You can use scarves, towels or small blankets. Reusing bags, boxes, ribbon, bows and tissue paper from the year before goes a long way for both the planet and your wallet
If you’re going to use ribbon to finish off your wrapping, you may not need to use tape (made from plastic). By not using tape, more of the wrapping paper can be reclaimed, and it’s easier for the recipient to save the wrapping for reuse.
You can still enjoy the holiday season this year while making a few changes to your lifestyle that reduce your impact. In the truer sense on the season, make a meaningful Christmas for your family/friends and your planet, our greatest gift.