From choosing the right decorative lights to adorn the most ecologically friendly tree, to wrapping gifts with recyclable paper, there are many ways to decrease environmental damage this December.
Choosing to buy locally grown and prepared foods for holiday celebrations avoids contributing to the carbon emitted when agricultural products are transported long distances. This also helps support local economies. According to LocalHarvest.com, an organic and local food directory and information source, most produce in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it’s sold.
Using ingredients from local farmers’ markets to make salsas, jams, barbecue sauces and other jarred goods is a great way to personalize your ecologically friendly gifts. An online living-green guide, The Daily Green, offers an array of ideas and links for sustainable, recycled, free trade and organic gifts. CharityUSA has several online stores where proceeds from the purchases go to different charities. It also offers free trade gifts.
The Environmental Defense Fund’s Website suggests giving a national park pass or vintage jewelry this year. Some wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. Avoid metallic and glossy foiled papers.
Gift wrap and holiday cards printed on 100 percent recycled paper are available from Green Field Paper, based out of San Diego, Calif. They offer several festive paper designs and card packages on their website. A Festival Collection article by Naomi Szeben outlines more wrapping paper alternatives.
There are many alternatives for what goes under the tree, but what about the tree itself? Is it better to chop one down or purchase a plastic alternative? While artificial trees can be used year after year, according to the Chicago Daily Herald, many of them are made out of polyvinyl chloride, “one of the worst non-renewable plastics out there”. After considering the manufacturing process and shipping- usually from China- fake trees leave a much larger carbon footprint. The Daily Herald also points out that real trees can be recycled into mulch. The best thing to do is to buy a real tree from a local organic nursery.
Having a real tree isn’t the only way to make your holiday decorating green. Choose energy-saving LED lights over conventional lights. Instead of buying plastic ornaments, make your own. Disney’s familyfun.go.com has free instructions on how to make more than 50 different ornaments. Making decorations that are edible or constructed from nature are both better than buying plastics that will be thrown away. You can also check out your local thrift stores for decorations from holidays past.
And finally, consider giving a gift to the environment this year and donate to a favorite green charity.