Tuesday, November 24

Green Irene's Guide to Sustainable Holidays!

Eco-Friendly Holiday Decorating:

*For holiday lighting, go with LEDs. LEDs are more efficient than standard lights (up to hundred times!), more durable, and much safer and cooler. Operating ten strings of mini-LED lights (as compared to ten strings of wasteful incandescent mini-lights) saves more than $12 in one month. Unplug or use a timer to turn off holiday lights during the day.

*Don't let traditional petroleum-based candles ruin your indoor air quality. Use a Tub-O-Carbon to naturally capture (rather than just cover) odors, and use soy-based candles to fill your home with an earth-friendly scent.

*Decorate naturally. Head out to your yard and find tree branches, bush stems loaded with berries, flowers whose seed heads have dried on the stem and flowering grasses to fill tall vases or baskets. It's more sustainable than buying a plant or flower that may be flown in from South America. You can also create a natural tablescape with natural elements or fresh fruit like pomegranates, pears, and apples.

*For those with a Christmas tree, try an organic potted tree from your local nursery that can be replanted after the holidays. A single tree can absorb more than one ton of CO2 over its lifetime, so imagine the impact if we all replanted our trees! A few companies in the U.S. allow you to rent a Christmas tree. They'll pick it up and replant it after the holidays are over. If you have a cut tree, be sure to look into local recycling options. Many municipalities and some organizations collect the trees to use for mulch and erosion control. This is much better than having your tree end up in a sealed landfill.

*For years, many considered the purchase of an artificial tree to be the environmentally friendly choice. However, most artificial trees are made from mainly non-renewable plastics, often containing PVC. They are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.

*Make recycled holiday ornaments from natural materials in the yard or material you find around the house. Not the crafty type? Many stores now offer ornaments made of recycled materials for sale. Another simple option is to string popcorn and cranberries or use hardened gingerbread cookies.

Green Gifting:

*Buying online will help to reduce your holiday shopping carbon footprint. When you do want to brave the store crowds, do research online beforehand so that you know which stores carry what you're looking for - you'll be able to reduce your driving between stores searching for those perfect gifts, which will save you on gas and on stress.

*Consider e-cards rather than traditional greeting cards to reduce holiday paper use. When paper cards are more appropriate, make sure to use cards with recycled content. Also don't forget to recycle any paper cards you receive.

*The average American's trash output goes up 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable bags for holiday gift shopping.

*Consider gifts that help the recipient implement their New Year's Resolution to live a more sustainable life. Gifts that accomplish that AND save the recipient money are especially thoughtful.

*Consider gifts like concert tickets and gift certificates to reduce packaging waste and the need for wrapping material. Charitable donations in the recipients' name make great gifts.

*Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly. Check product labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials (buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available). Avoid any gifts that may contain toxic ingredients like lead or that off-gas Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

*About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy a rechargeable battery kit to accompany your electronic gifts this year.

Reducing Gift Wrapping:

*When newspaper comics aren't quite the look you're going for in wrapping presents, consider reusing any gift bags that you received last year. Also, try saving wrapping paper for use next year. When buying gift wrap, make sure to find recycled paper content.

*Don't burn that leftover wrapping paper in the fireplace. The inks and foils used in wrapping paper may contain chemicals that become toxic when burned. If you can't reuse the paper, don't burn it: recycle it.

*For a quick gift tag, reuse last year's holiday cards. Cut off the side that has the signature, thread a ribbon through a corner of the remaining card, and voila!

Happy Holidays!


Eco Yogini said...

fantastic ideas!
I am, however, so not ready for all this lol.

Daisy said...

Unfortunately, most gift wraps are not recyclable. Wrapping paper is so wasteful; your tips on reusing are the best idea where wrapping is concerned.

Over Coffee - the green edition said...

I agree Daisy. I have so much paper from the past it is difficult not to use it....

I know what you mean Eco Yogini....I thought about waiting until after Thanksgiving to post this but....

Happy Holidays!

Ecosaurus LLC said...

Thanks, Irene, for your blog! Daisy's right - most gift wraps are not recyclable and are often wasteful. But there are companies that do provide alternatives that are green and are recyclable. Ecosaurus, a company my friend and I started, is one. People will continue buying paper and sending notes (and who doesn't love snail mail), so we wanted to provide a recycled/recyclable alternative for paper goods. We also try to provide ideas for using leftover gift wrap and other materials on our blog. We hope the world continues to lean toward green in their consumption and reuse of materials. www.shopecosaurus.com