Have a very merry eco-friendly Chrismas!
You recycle your trash, re-use paper, walk or bicycle when possible, repurpose and donate no longer needed items. Overall, you do a good job of respecting the environment. However, according to Stanford Building and Grounds Maintenance website, up to 25% more waste is generated during this season than at any other time of the year. There’s no better time to share tips for having a green christmas.
It is possible to enjoy the holiday season with a less-wasteful (and perhaps less-stressful) environment-friendly approach. Here are some idea:
- Wrap with reusable materials such as glass jars, baskets, old fabric, tissue paper, recycled gift bags and boxes, etc. Give gifts that are home made, not bought; cookies, fresh baked bread, home made Christmas ornaments, photo calendar, coupon books for services.
- Use comics, old maps, newsprint, hand drawn pictures to make tags, cards and envelopes.
- The City of Madison has this great list of ideas for gifts that promote environmental responsibility:
- Buy locally made gifts from local merchants. This cuts down on the carbon emissions from shipping and keeps money in the local economy.
- Backyard Composter or worm composter
- Reusable food containers, or lunch bags
- Rechargeable batteries and/or a battery charger
- Donation to an environmental organization or charity
- Diaper Service
- Bus Pass
- Clothing made from unbleached cotton or recycled pop bottles
- Reusable coffee mugs or drinking water bottles
- Recycled content stationery, paper products, office products, etc.
- Environmentally-friendly bath and beauty products
- Remember to take your reusable bags every time you go shopping.
- Also, Control N Roll encourages responsible conservation for people on your gift list.
Purchase a live tree that can be transplanted into your landscape when the season is right. For some helpful ideas, check Ted Roberson’s article, “Replanting Your Christmas Tree.”
Use LED lighting. (Contact your waste recycling company to find out how to recycle your old lights.) Make decorations from reusable or compostable materials. Make garland using popcorn and berries. Pack with air popped popcorn instead of styrofoam peanuts.
Turn off holiday lights when you go to bed. Close your chimney flue when your fire is extinguished.
You can help your guests relax and feel welcome and still respect your efforts to “reduce, re-use, recycle”. Provide plenty of fabric towels to use instead of paper. Have rags readily available for clean-up. Keep extra blankets handy for cold nights. Plan neighborhood “nature walks” for the children. Make a map of local-sourced shopping resources. Install Control ’N Roll (http://www.controlnroll.com/ ) on your toilet paper dispensers.
When planning holiday festivities, make it easy for your guests to recycle at gatherings. Use plates, glasses and cutlery that can be washed and re-used. Turn down the thermostat for your party and let your guests be the heaters. Run your ceiling fan clockwise during the party distributing the heat throughout the house.
The New York State Department of Environment Conservation offers these suggestions for Holiday Food and Green Parties:
- Locally grown food travels fewer miles and creates fewer carbon emissions. Serve bite-sized or finger foods to minimize plate and utensil use.
- Use smaller serving utensils and plates to encourage smaller portions reducing the amount of food waste left on plates.
- Use recyclable aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap to store leftovers.
- Plan your menu and exactly how much food you’ll need.
- Send electronic party invitations instead of paper invitations.
- Use re-usable cups, plates, silverware and utensils instead of using disposable plastic, paper or styrofoam at your party.
- Avoid buying individually packaged drinks.
- Donate leftover food to local food banks. Compost food that is not donated.
- Cook multiple items in the same oven and run appliances on full loads.
With a little advance planning, you can continue to reduce your environmental impact through the season ahead.