Friday, December 16, 2011

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

The Christmas season is a time for peace, joy and goodwill towards all. Unfortunately, it is also a
time where natural resources are consumed at an alarming rate and extra burdens are piled on an
already overly taxed environment.

Taking a quick look at the environmental toll of Christmas paints us a disturbing picture. Each
year, over 1 million pine trees are cut down just for the holiday season. Additionally, people send
out over 2 billion Christmas cards and over 37,000 miles of gift ribbon is consumed. These items
not only use precious resources, but after the season they often end up taking up space in a

However, Christmas doesn't have to be a burden on the environment. While being greener often only seems to be the concern of environmentalists and academics, you should also strive to enjoy the pleasures of the season without unnecessarily polluting the environment. All it takes to make a difference is to look at the holiday season in a different way and change a few of your habits.

1. Christmas Trees

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 33 million trees are bought
during the Christmas season, and many of them will end up in landfills. However this can be
avoided by buying a planted tree. Planted trees can be purchased for a nominal price and last
considerably longer than trees that have been cut down. Best of all, after the holiday season
you can plant these trees on your property or donate them to a local park. Thus, the decorating
with a pre-planted tree not only prevents trees from being needlessly cut down and being thrown
away in the local landfill after the holidays, but also allows you to contribute something to the

You might also want to consider renting a Christmas trees specifically for the holidays. Many local
nurseries will rent out trees for the holiday season for a nominal fee. If you must cut down your
own tree, make sure to recycle it after the holidays (most states offer tree recycling programs).
While it is not as green as buying a potted tree, it does ease the burden on the environment.

2. Gift Wrapping

Tons of wrapping paper and wrapping accessories make their way into landfills each year. This can
be avoided by simply thinking out of the box. Instead of buying fancy wrapping paper, use the
comic section of old newspapers to wrap your gifts. Similarly, old VHS tape film and the strings
from old mini-blinds make excellent replacements for gift ribbons. If you're shipping packages,
you can use peanut shells and the filling from old pillows as replacements for packaging peanuts
and bubble wrap.

You can also pack your gifts in tins and boxes. Not only is this an attractive way to package your
presents, but these containers can also be reused year after year. In fact, some people make
reusing these tins a part of their holiday tradition. One year a family might receive gift wrapped in
one of these tins and the next year they will use them to give gifts to other families.

Giving gifts that don't require much wrapping at all is an even better idea. Presents such as gift
certificates, concert tickets and sporting event tickets save a considerable amount of packaging.
However if you feel that your gifts absolutely have to be wrapped in festive packaging, then
try to buy Christmas wrapping that contains a minimum of 60 percent post-consumer recycled
paper. This wrapping paper can then be recycled again after the holidays. Visit Earth 911 to find
recycling programs in your area.

3. Christmas Lights

According to the EPA, LED Christmas lights consume 90 percent less energy than conventional
Christmas lights. Aside from saving energy they also offer a few other benefits. First of all, they
don't get hot to the touch and won't start a holiday fire. Secondly, when one light burns out the
entire strand will continue working. You can be even greener (and save money) by placing your
Christmas lights on a timer. This way the lights can be programmed to shut down during daylight
hours and to come on during evening hours.

Following the tips above will ensure that your holiday season will not only be pleasant, but green
as well. A green Christmas is not only a gift to yourself but also a gift to the planet and future
generations – something that everyone can enjoy for many years to come.

Brittany Lyons aspires to be a psychology professor, but decided to take some time off from grad school to help people learn to navigate the academic lifestyle. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington, where she spends her time reading science fiction and walking her dog.

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1 comment:

  1. artificial christmas tree with led lights Huge selection of colors is available in this variety. They are energy efficient and burns brighter.