Green Up Your Holidays
The holidays can be a difficult time for any good habit to be enforced. No time for exercise, rich, decadent foods everywhere, family tensions flare, and money run short. One habit, however, is not only easy to keep throughout the holidays but easy to share with everyone you know- the gift of green. Not piles of money, not cans of spinach. Caring for our planet by making responsible choices is a gift that will benefit everyone, not just the people you know. Below you will find some easy ways to not only green up your holidays but green up your life.
Support Your Local Economy
Shop Local. Purchasing gifts that are made as close to where you live as possible (or made by you yourself) will cut down on the carbon footprint left behind by transporting items across the country or around the world. Gift certificates to local merchants are a great way to grow business for a neighbor, support your local economy, and reduce fossil fuel use.
Gift Abroad. For the person who has everything, make a donation to a group such as Heifer International (www.heifer.org) in the recipient’s name. For as little as $20 you can buy a flock of ducks, geese, or chicks, or a whole larger animal (such as a pig or a goat) for as little as $10 to feed struggling families in developing countries. Other international aid groups include UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.
Save the Environment
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag). Whether it’s the grocery store, discount store, or the mall, taking your own bags not only saves the environment but saves your body and purchases. Plastic bags are not only produced from dwindling petroleum resources, but end up harming wildlife when they blow into bodies of water from garbage trucks, landfills, or litter bugs. In addition, some stores (Target and Whole Foods) give money back for each reusable bag you bring. A pretty, decorative, cloth bag also makes great gift wrap that the recipient can then use when he or she goes shopping.
Decorate a Real Tree. Decorating a real tree with give your home a pleasant scent for the holidays and give aquatic animals a present after the holidays. Support your local farmer by going to a farm and cutting your own Christmas tree or support a local charity by purchasing a pre-cut tree from a charity such as the Lions Club or the Boy Scouts. In addition, you are reducing the amount of oil used to produce an artificial plastic tree.
Plan Your Trip
Plan Your Trip. Before you head out to do your holiday errands, plan your trip to go the most efficient route and make a list for each place. That way you are not wasting time and gas waiting in traffic or driving out of your way to get from place to place.
Turn Down the Thermostat. If you are the only one at home and you’re going to be cooking in the kitchen for a long time or no one is going to be home for most of the day, turn down your thermostat at 5 degrees. If you have a large house and do not use all the rooms, close the doors and close the vents to those rooms.
Bring Toys To Life. If you are giving battery-operated toys as gifts, give rechargeable batteries and a charger to Mom and Dad. They will never have to buy batteries for the toy and chemicals from discarded batteries will not enter our water supply.
Environmentally Responsible Holiday
Having an environmentally responsible holiday season not only benefits our earthly home, but the physical home we own. Less gifts to clutter the home, fewer plastic bags filling a drawer, and more money to put towards a home improvement project are among just a few of the benefits of a green holiday season.
When the holidays are over, make sure you recycle responsibly and not wishfully. Greeting cards and wrapping paper that have glitter on them are not recyclable. When you are done with your tree, do not put it in a plastic bag on the curb; many communities have drop-off locations in parks where your tree will be given a new life in a lake or chipped up to provide wood chips for park landscaping.
These are just a few ideas for making your holidays and the rest of the year evergreen!