29 November 2010

We wish you a green Christmas, ways to make your holiday eco-friendly

No, we're not wishing you a Grinch-filled Christmas, we're helping you create the good kind of Green Christmas!  With these tips from Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, director of sustainability at Wake Forest University, you can make the holiday merry for the entire planet.  

*Use Sustainable Gift Wrap: Consider saving and re-using holiday wrapping paper just as your grandmother once did. Or wrap your gifts in pretty fabric that can be used for other purposes. "In my family, we re-gift gift bags again and again," DeLongpre Johnston says. "Pillowcases can also make pretty gift wraps if done right."

*Decorate with Energy-Efficient Lighting: While many people still use standard incandescent holiday bulbs, decorative LED lights are now available in a variety of holiday shapes and colors. In addition to having a much longer life span than standard lights, LEDs also reduce fire risks because they stay cool to the touch. "This would be one of the areas where you might spend a little more upfront, but save in the long run," DeLongpre Johnston says. Want to be even greener? Use light-sensor timers to turn your lights on and off.

*Give Consumable Gifts: Most Americans don't need any more stuff or as DeLongpre Johnston points out we're all "stuffed out."  So consider giving the gift of services instead, or goods that can be consumed. Some ideas include massages, pedicures, tickets to sporting events, gift certificates for restaurants and other similar pampering treats. Other options would be to give consumable gifts that keep on giving all year long like a membership to a Wine of the Month Club or a monthly delivery of seasonal fruits grown locally. Says DeLongpre Johnston: "It doesn't mean you have to be any less generous."

*Make a Donation in Someone's Name: If someone has a passion in life, giving to an organization that supports their cause can be very meaningful.

*Give the Gift of Time: Schedule time to get together with friends and family for cookie exchanges or other meaningful holiday events. "We do have the ability as individuals and families to bring whatever intention to this season that we want," DeLongpre  Johnston says. "So we can share meals and share time with one another, and if we'd like to give each other gifts, we can do that too."

*Treecycle: If you have a cut tree, check with your local municipality to find out when they will pick it up for recycling. Fortunately, you'll be in good company. More than 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year, but more than 90 percent are being recycled for mulch or chipped and used in parks and other public spaces.

Not only will you be battling the Grinch this year when you use these green tips, you'll be helping to insure happy holidays for many generations to come!

Amanda Rock | @slc_vgn
Amanda has a passion for delicious, sustainable food. Spending most of her life as a vegetarian sparked her interest in the environmental impact of food. When she's not glued to her computer, you can find her spending time with her fur-kids and going on foodie adventures with her husband. Visit Amanda's SLC blog and vegan dog blog.

Photo credit:cc: flickr.com/photos/lorensztajer