Green Consumer Action.
GET A LIVE TREE! - Believe it or not, a live tree is actually a relatively eco-friendly choice, so long as you're conscious about where it goes once the holidays are over. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, nearly all cut holiday trees are grown on tree farms - meaning their stock is replenished yearly and forests aren't hurt by choosing a cut tree. Go to earth911.org and enter your ZIP code to find out where to have your tree recycled. Or even better, get a LIVE one and plant it !
Fake trees are a different story, requiring a significant amount of energy and petroleum-based materials to manufacture. Plus, artificial trees are often manufactured overseas and shipped thousands of miles before they reach our living rooms.
BE BRIGHT! - Instead of buying more standard holiday lights to replace bad strings, opt for energy-efficient light strings. When they're made using light-emitting diode bulbs, LEDs, they're 90% more efficient than traditional holiday lights. LEDs also last longer - up to 10,000 hours compared with 5,000 hours for standard incandescent bulbs. AND- you can go one better by getting light strands with a small SOLAR panel to power those LEDs!!
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, REPURPOSE - This tip is an oldy but a goody. It just requires being a responsible consumer, user, and disposer.
REDUCE - Once you have pared down your consumption, be sure to buy responsibly. Look for things made of recycled materials, that support your local economy, with minimal packaging, or that help support conservation causes.
REUSE - Be creative about how and when to reuse.
What you can't reuse, RECYCLE! Visit the EPA's Tips for Reducing Solid Waste for more information on how to conserve during the holidays and year-round.
If you are an online shopper, check out links below for some great environmentally conscious gift items and ideas:
BORROW FROM NATURE - Think of how your grandmother or great or even great-great grandmother decorated during the holiday - with natural evergreen boughs cut from evergreen trees (holly, pine, magnolia) handmade ornaments, and bowls of fruit or pine cones. With a backdrop of seasonal poinsettias and cyclamen they create a warm, fragrant and welcoming feel - and they aren't made of petroleum and chemicals and shipped from across the world. University of Kentucky's floriculturist Sharon Bale has some great tips for holiday decorating the "green" way.
- GIFT WRAP - Start your own recycling program for wrapping.
- Use old posters, comics, colorful shopping bags, old calendars, even old maps are cool wraps!
- Design your own gift-wrap by using a paper grocery or department store bag and adding decorations such as drawings, stamped patterns, or pictures cut from magazines.
- Let the kids do the designing. It will keep them busy on stormy days.
- If you do use store bought wrapping paper, buy the kind with recycled content (the more post consumer, the better).
- When you receive gifts, be sure to save the ribbons and bows. For additional tips on how to reduce your gift wrapping waste, visit http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/publiced/Holidays/.