We all want the holiday season to come around every year. It means time off from work, time spent with family, good food and presents. But our natural resources are limited and becoming increasingly difficult to come by year after year.
Consider these facts:
- The amount of household garbage in the U.S. increases from 4 million tons to 5 million tons per week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day alone.
- Of the 50 million Christmas trees purchased in the U.S. annually, 30 million end up in landfills when recycling is so easy to do.
- The amount of holiday greeting cards sold during the holiday season account for the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees.
The terms, “green living” and “eco-friendly” have become common buzz-words. Take a moment to consider your options. How can you become ecologically friendly and live green?
Here are a couple of easy steps to make your holidays “merry and bright”:
- Consider switching to holiday e-cards. Bluemountain.com and Amazon provide easy online ways to send cards and photos. Used Christmas cards can be made into tree ornaments, place cards, or gift tags.
- Consider the pros and cons of owning an artificial tree or purchasing a live tree. Live trees can be replanted after the holiday season.
- Switch your lights to LED or solar powered. These bulbs don’t get as hot as traditional lights and if one bulb goes out, it won’t affect the rest. LED’s are 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Remember, smaller bulbs allow for a lower energy cost.
- Household decorations don’t need to be purchased every year. Use seasonal fruits as centerpieces. If they are still edible after the holiday season, a nice fruit salad could help you ring in the New Year. But if all else fails your fruit is biodegradable.
- Make your own gifts. Homemade baked goods, hand knitted scarves, and family photos are a personal way to show you care. Go the extra mile and make a playlist of memorable songs or create a scrapbook of important events. This is a fun way to relive the year with your closest loved ones.
- Give a gift that keeps on giving. Volunteer at the local food pantry, participate in Toys for Tots and offer free housecleaning. Give your time.
- Consider gift wrapping in unusual ways. Use old posters, coloring pages, the Sunday comics, or sheet music to wrap your gifts. Be specific to your audience. You could always reuse previous holiday gift wrapping and bows.
- Reusable shopping totes. Shopping is a fun part of the holiday season. Be conscious of your carbon footprint and reuse bags.
- Solar-powered charges and tech ideas. Toxic batteries end up in landfills. When traveling to visit family, every piece of technology you bring; your cell phone, laptop and camera, all need to be charged. Save electrical bills and bring along a solar-powered charger.
- Reusable water bottles. Stay hydrated and healthy. Reuse your own water bottle. Keep your mouth off of other cups and bottles and prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
- Silverware or plastic ware? It’s time to dust off the fancy plates! Use real silverware, napkins and stemware. This is a classy way to prevent disposables from ending up in the landfill.
- Donate! Clean out your closet and get ready for that new Christmas sweater. Donate your clothes to Goodwill. Donate old books and toys to a local shelter. Charitable donations can also be made throughout the community.
- Give eco-friendly gifts. State park permits, bus passes or fishing licenses are great ways to get some chores out of the way and to help someone experience wonderful Indiana wildlife.
- Gift boxes. When opening holiday gifts, remember that gift boxes are 100% reusable. Fold the boxes down and store them in your pantry. These boxes can be used for storage or other gifts.
- Over the holiday season you will receive hundreds of catalogs. Sort through them and call the toll-free number to discontinue your use of the ones you don’t want or need.
- Spice up your holiday tables with a fancy tablecloth. Use a bed sheet. It is durable and a can be easily cleaned.
- Thinking of purchasing a new cell phone for the holiday season? Old cell phones can be recycled or donated to your local Domestic Violence Programs.
- Give your gifts. Offer free tennis lessons, use your green sensibility and decorate a friend’s apartment, or volunteer anywhere you can utilize your talents.
- Packing. Are you shipping gifts across the country or even the world? Think about using different packing materials. Packing peanuts are not biodegradable. Instead try to use dry, popped popcorn, used packing peanuts or discarded newspapers.
- You can still have a fabulous Christmas tree. Use old jewelry or lost buttons to adorn your tree. This will also create room in your jewelry box and under the tree for all of the new jewelry you will be getting.