Have an Eco-friendly Holiday: Saving the Earth by Making Less into More

Looking forward to the gifts, food and decorations that holidays give us can be fun.Yet it’s easy to forget that festive occasions like Christmas also add to the pollution, waste and energy consumption the planet already has to bear. Fortunately, there are simple ways to change holiday habits to keep the enjoyment alive without adding to environmentally harmful excess.

The Tree:

Christmas trees are an important symbol of this special day. In the past, trees were often harvested from forests and then cast into dumps after the holidays. Now, if you’re set on a cut tree, a tree farm is your best bet. “For every tree harvested at a tree farm, another 10 are planted to ensure a crop every year,” reminds Homemakers’ magazine. Further, if you put them out for recycling, the trees are chipped and used again. A live, potted tree is also a good option. If you take care of the tree, it can also add to the oxygen circulation in your house year round. Decorating it with homemade ornaments or edible ones like popcorn is also an environmental choice. Try to avoid stringing the tree and the house with lights or replace with LED bulbs.

The Gifts:

Buy less. Many presents bought at holiday time are purchased on the spur of the moment, last minute or without considering long term use. Think beyond the instant of its opening to what will become of the gift in a few weeks or months. If you’re buying battery powered presents, include a recharger and reusable batteries with them. Avoid over packaged items. Buy secondhand: “Try flea markets, antique jewellery and vintage shops for gifts.” Better yet, make your own presents. Homemade jam or chutneys, art, baking, seasoned nuts or dried fruits, or even just a hand designed card with a poem in it create meaningful memories. Or you could give a certificate for childcare, a movie, or a donation in the person’s name to an environmental group or charity. Reuse wrapping and ribbons. Pop the presents in a bag. Don’t forget to recycle all the paper products at the end, instead of adding to the “million extra tons of garbage” that Christmas has been known to produce!

The Food:

Order your organic, free range turkey early. Budget if you can to select only organic vegetables for the feast. Plan your grocery list carefully so that you can save gas by making only one trip to the store. If you can use public transit or walk, do. Carry the food home in canvas bags. Cook only what you and your family can eat, either on the day or as leftovers. Try not to overuse the stove. Compost any food wastes in a backyard or countertop composter. And give thanks for the feast, knowing you’ve done your best to have a truly green holiday!

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