Merry, Bright and Green
This morning began like so many others. A quick shower, a peek at the morning newscast, a couple of sips of coffee, smooches all around and I was off to work. I was zipping along the road, ready for a new day when kablaam! That’s when I saw it. A home with windows sprayed with faux-snow and strung up with glittery garlands. And, as a finishing touch, there was still a Halloween pumpkin on the front porch. What?! The “holiday season” seems to get longer and more out of control every year doesn’t it? Now, don’t get me wrong, I love what the holidays represent: the spirit of giving, the gathering ‘round of our loved ones, the sharing with our community. The mere thought of it brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart! But…then there’s that other side of the holidays. You know, the tense, high-pressure, stressful, unending cycle of spend, wrap, unwrap, throw away, repeat, consume, waste, and all with not a second to think or breathe—sound familiar? That’s the side of the holidays I’d like to do without, thank you very much. It feels like it is much harder to try to be green at the holidays than at any other time of the year. So, what’s to do then? How do we make our holidays merry and bright and yet still stay true to our green values? Here are some tips that will help you do just that.
First up is the easy stuff. Of course, we all know we can recycle! Get a good recycling plan in place for every holiday gathering and make sure everyone knows what goes where. These days, thank goodness, recycling is nearly second nature to most people, so your guests will know what to do once you’ve shown them your set up. And don’t forget to compost!
Next is to try to minimize the amount of disposable stuff that you’ll be using. Just say no to throwaway utensils & tableware whenever you can. If you must though—and who among us hasn’t had to at one time or another—try to choose those made of recycled or sustainable materials. Many stores carry products that are made from bamboo, recycled plastics, or compostable/biodegradable materials. These products are durable and good-looking, perfect for your holiday party guests to pile their yummies on.
Which brings me to the next tip: get those edible goodies local! Whenever you can try to purchase the food you’ll be serving for your holiday celebrations from local sources. Buying food that is grown or raised near you greatly reduces the carbon emissions that are produced by the planes, trains and trucks that would otherwise transport those items to you , sometimes over many thousands of miles. Take advantage of the bounty on offer at your local farmers markets, often an excellent source for sustainably raised meats as well as fruits and vegetables. Another added benefit of buying local is that you’re investing your money right back into our communities!
Thinking about decorating the outside of your home with a creative lights display this year? You can and still be eco-conscious with solar LED lights! Using solar lights for your decorations is a fun, easy and green way to get into the holiday spirit. The lights require no power source—just position the panel in a spot that gets at least three hours of sun per day—so there are no dangerous and unsightly wires dangling about and no distressing spike in your monthly electricity bill. LED lights last thousands of hours longer than traditional bulbs so you’ll be able to get years of use from them.
Perhaps you want to rethink gift wrapping all together this year. There are a few ways you might do this. If you want to go a more traditional route and get the “wow effect” of a pile of wrapped gifts, many companies make wrapping papers for all occasions out of recycled and sustainable materials now and they are becoming more widely available. Or you could get more creative and make a theme out of it. Giving a cookbook to your sister? You could wrap it in a lovely teatowel and tie it all up with a reusable cloth ribbon. I love to use pretty towels for gift wrapping—its like getting two gifts instead of one!