Tis the season for trimming trees, hosting holiday parties, and giving gifts. The weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with lots of activities. It’s a tiring holiday for everyone, but especially the environment. Anyone who is frustrated with the carbon footprint holiday celebrations leave can make a few simple changes that have a positive impact.
As with all attempts at living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, the key elements involve the three Rs: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Taking a look at the holiday season with these three concepts in mind produces positive results.
Icicle lights, inflatable snowmen, and illuminated shrubs are as much a part of Christmas as St. Nick himself. Being eco friendly at Christmas doesn’t mean turning the lights completely off, just modifying and updating the lights us.
Instead of spending time untangling the previous year’s string of lights stored in the garage, one can purchase new LED outdoor lights, which use less electricity, burn brighter, and are more durable. Holiday lights really don’t need to shine until midnight every December evening. Invest in a timer that turns the lights on and off at specified times. Many timers offer two hour, four hour, and six hour increments.
Cards and GiftsGiving and receiving holiday cards is a special tradition carried out by many. Card writers assembling their list of people to send cards to can edit the list every couple of years. Is it necessary to mail 150 holiday cards with barely a signature? Would it be more fun to send fewer cards with more meaningful personal notes instead? If purchasing Christmas cards, purchase ones printed on recycled paper. Another option is to purchase holiday cards from organizations that raise awareness about the environment, such as the National Wildlife Federation or the Sierra Club.
Christmas gifts – and the wrapping they come with – leave many feeling guilty. Garbage cans overflow with crumpled wrapping paper and cardboard boxes. Minimizing the amount of wrapping done, by using fewer boxes and less gift wrap, saves paper. In lieu of accessorizing gifts with bows and ribbons, one could add natural box toppers such as evergreen or holly berry branches. Instead of buying gift tags, gift givers could make their own.
The debate over decorating a real or artificial Christmas tree has pros and cons on both sides of the aisle. But when determining which one is more eco friendly, the real Christmas tree wins the prize. Artificial trees are made from PVC, plastic, and other nonbiodegradable materials. The real Christmas tree is 100% natural. But there are still ways to make trimming a real tree even kinder to the environment.
One might consider buying a tree from a local tree farm or vendor that buys from local tree farms. Use the trimmings from the tree in other holiday decorations, such as homemade wreaths or mantel pieces. After Christmas, take the tree to a recycling center, where it is shredded into mulch, rather than throwing it away.
Christmas is the season of giving. Simple changes in holiday traditions help the environment, which is a gift everyone appreciates.