Saturday, November 7, 2009

Top 3 Eco Tips For The Holidays

With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought I would share a few quick ideas to help 'green' your holidays.

When you filter through all the information, there are some really interesting ideas available on the web that you can take advantage when planning your holiday season:

1. Holiday Greeting Cards: The most environmentally friendly option is, of course, to send your family and friends an e-card.  This saves the eco-cost of manufacturing and transporting an actual greeting card.  If you look online, you'll even find that most of your favorite charitable organizations (e.g. World Wildlife Fund) have a selection of e-cards that you can send that reflect your personal beliefs. I use e-cards for family and friends that live far away. I, personally, still like to give people a hand written card face to face.  My favorite find for Christmas Cards this year are seed paper cards that bloom when you plant them.  If you google, you can find many companies that make them.  I just love the idea that the card I give out can be planted and will grow wild flowers. I also have to admit that the 100% recycled paper and the soy & water based inks help to sell me on the cards from  If you research, you'll find a variety of companies that sell seed cards with designs that are truly adorable.

2. Decorating:  If you celebrate Christmas, you may expect me to tell you that an artificial tree is the most envirnomentally friendly solution because it's reusable year after year. Would you be surprised to find out that it's not?  Artificial trees require a significant amount of energy and petroleum products in the manufacturing cycle--not to mention that most are made overseas and shipped to North America.  A real tree is actually an eco-friendly choice provided you take care with how it is handled after the holidays.  One of our favorite family traditions is to take our children to a local tree farm to pick out and cut down our own tree.  We can feel good about it because it is a farmed tree, so we are not impacting the viability of local forests, and we are only transporting it a relatively short distance to our home.   Our local municipality has a recycling program for Christmas trees, but they can also be put through a chipper and makes good mulch. Another alternative, if you don't mind a small tree, is to buy a potted tree that can planted outside when the weather warms up. That's the best recycling program of all! Another way to 'green' your decorations is to move away from traditional string lights and choose energy efficient  light strings instead.  Some LED light strings are as much as 90% more energy efficient than traditional and look just as good. Further, they have almost double the life of traditional light strings which means less frustration. When decorating your tree, you can choose ornaments that are handmade from natural materials.  Often they come with less packaging which reduces waste.  Search the internet and you'll find sources for Fair Trade ornaments which are a wonderful solution and are both unique and beautiful. My last inexpensive but lovely decorating tip comes from my Grandmother. She used to cut fresh pine boughs to decorate the house.  It's a tradition we still enjoy...the smell is wonderful.

3. Gifts: If you are looking for sustainable and eco-friendly gift ideas, there are plenty available if you know where to look. One of the most popular questions is about how to manage gift giving. In recent years it's become much easier to find great designs in 100% recycled wrapping paper. You can also choose the option of cloth gift bags. My personal favorite this year for gift giving will be seed paper gift bags...I just love these products. With regards to the gifts themselves, ideally you simply want to make the more sustainable and eco-friendly choice when shopping for gifts in order to 'green' your holiday.  Organic cotton sheets are a lovely alternative to the ordinary.  Bamboo is one of our most interesting sustainable resources and they make wonderfully soft environmentally friendly bedding as well. Organic and sustainable toys can be a great solution for those special children in your life. For the techie in your family who loves their gadgets, there are some great gift ideas that are good for the environment and fun to use.  One of the green gadgets on my list this year is the Novothink Solar Charger for iPod and iPhone. I sure hope that the big guy in the red suit leaves one under the tree for me this year!

I'd love to hear how you "green" the holidays.  Please feel free to leave a comment or chat with me on Twitter.

*Photo by D Sharon Pruitt.

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