The holidays are the perfect time to be more “green”. Around this time of year, when the holiday season is upon us, we’re too busy decorating, buying presents, and attending parties. People spend hordes of money and effort on making their homes just right for Christmas and for buying the ideal present for their family and friends. Neighbors outdo each other by seeing who can put out the most Christmas lights or decorations so that no one within a 50 mile radius can miss their house. It’s an opulent time of year to celebrate and an even harder time to try and be more green.
Well, as I’ve learned more about the importance of preserving our precious planet, each year I try to do a bit more in helping the environment. It’s gotten easier throughout the years as companies are learning how crucial it is to improve the sustainability of our planet by offsetting their manufacturing, using recyclable packaging, recycling their products, and so forth. There are certainly more options out there in what you can buy for people when it comes to environmentally-friendly gifts. You can even buy a tree to be planted to offset all the traveling you’ll probably be doing during the holidays – what with last minute gift shopping, heading to the local market to pick up some sugar that you forgot you ran out of, or picking up extra wrapping paper. You can learn more about planting trees throughout the world at American Forests website: http://www.americanforests.org/.
But honestly, it’s more than just planting an extra tree to help preserve the environment. It’s more about how we can all reuse, reduce, and recycle. Take for instance the Christmas lights. Unless you’re getting LED lights, you’re using up an enormous amount of energy which can be saved for more important things. Most Christmas lights are LED lights so you’ll definitely find a good selection but then how much lights do you put on the outside and inside of your house? This year, I was seriously thinking of putting up some Christmas lights on the outside of our house but then even with LED lights, it’s still wasting A LOT of electricity. And our neighbors literally do try to outshine each other every year – our neighborhood looks like Disneyland fireworks – so bright and eye-catching! But alas, I think we’ll just stick with the Christmas lights on our Christmas tree and especially with a mischievous toddler in the house, I really can’t afford to have lights everywhere.
For many years I try to save wrapping paper and gift bags that I can reuse or repurpose. When I open a gift, and if the wrapping paper is extremely beautiful, I’ll be careful not to tear the paper and save it to wrap someone else’s present. And gift bags are truly too wasteful if you don’t save them and reuse them. I also buy brown recycled gift bags that I can just decorate myself to make it even more personal and fun. And for this year, instead of using the saved tissue paper from previous gifts, I think I’ll shred up my old magazines that I no longer read and use them as stuffing for gift bags and inside boxes. Everyone has some sort of magazines laying around that they no longer need and instead of recycling them, shredding them in your shredder would be a fun and different usage for them. And the more colorful the pages are, the better! And since you’re planning on recycling them anyway, at least they’ll be repurposed for something delightful.
And what about Christmas trees? Is it better to buy artificial trees or real trees? Artificial trees may last forever as long as you continue to like the style, but most artificial trees are made with a toxic material like PVC that can emit chemicals into the air and can be potentially harmful. PVC’s are the leading health toxins that can affect a person’s immune system over time and is especially dangerous for young children. And if you have a large Christmas tree that you’re going to put up for a few weeks and store throughout the year, then there’s always a risk of the PVC leaking into the air. While real Christmas trees are beautiful and can last a long time as well, they are also expendable. I always feel sad for the Christmas trees and pumpkins during the holidays (and turkeys) when they are grown only for the holidays and sold in mass quantities everywhere. But what happens when they don’t sell ALL of the trees and pumpkins? I always think it’s such a waste. Then there are trees called “living trees” where you can replant them after the holiday is over. However, I don’t hear very good things about them because they are hard to grow and it all depends on the climate and the space.
So, when it comes to trying to be more green this holiday season, I plan on using less electricity, less plastic decorations, and more eco-friendly packaging and gifts. I think the recipients of my gifts will appreciate that as well and I’ll feel better too. And it’s also a great time to teach my son the importance of trying to save the planet and help the people.