Green Holiday Guide or Back to Basics

I read an article the other day about a Green Holiday Guide or as I call it “getting back to the basics”. What a wonderful idea!

Over the years, we have seen an every-rising tide of seasonal spirit and a phenomenal amount of consumption and waste, due to modern holiday celebrations. According to the book, Use Less Stuff by Robert Lilienfeld, Americans generate approximately 25% more trash than normal between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day. That is a million extra tons of garbage created every week. No wonder more and more people are looking for a better way.

As I read more and more about being green, I find that quite a few things we are doing now, we were doing 40 years ago.

Here are some of the things our family did during the holidays then that is called “green” now:

  • Instead of buying unwanted gifts that will go unused, make a list, check it twice, and give each person on your list one quality gift that they really want and need.
  • Shop early in the season, don’t wait to the last minute. That way you will avoid impulse buying or panic buying.
  • Plan your holiday shopping trips by making just one or two trips. Not only does this save time and fuel, it helps with cutting down on pollution. Better yet, nowadays you can shop online and let your fingers to the walking.
  • Remember handmade gifts. I know the most cherished items I have received are the ones that someone took the time to make me. If you have a special skill, use it to make your own gifts.
  • One thing that our children have done for us over the years is make coupons for washing our car, mowing the lawn, fixing us dinner. How about a coupon for a massage for your spouse? Do things that involve time instead of money. If you have a special skill, give a coupon for your time.
  • When you buy decorative lights, look for the sets wired in parallel so when one bulb burns out, the rest on the strand will continue to burn.
    • Here are some suggestions from our green holiday guide for wrapping presents:
      • Use things you have around the house such as newspaper, old posters or wrapping paper from the grocery store in place of holiday wrapping paper you buy.
      • Open your gifts carefully and save that ribbon for wrapping presents next year.
      • Instead of ribbon, use twine or yarn that you may have around the house.
      • Save your gift boxes so you don’t need to get as many at the store next year.
      • If you have a large present, just put a big bow on it and cover it up with a sheet until you are ready for it to be unveiled.

    Here are some new things for our green holiday guide we have found:

    • If you are in the market for a Christmas tree, buy a REAL one instead of a artificial one. Almost all trees today come from tree farms, instead of forests. You can also compost or mulch them in January. Artificial trees require petroleum and energy to manufacture and transport them and eventually they will be in a landfill.
    • Be sure that any Hanukkah or other candles you use during the holiday season have lead-free wicks and are made from naturally scented soy, vegetable or beeswax and are not synthetically fragranced petroleum wax.
    • Save energy by keeping your lighting to a minimum and using LEDs. Also, put your outside lights on a timer.
    • Instead of sending holiday cards, spend a few evenings making holiday phone calls or even better yet, create a holiday blog or online slide show of your year’s events for everyone on your e-mail list.

We hope our green holiday guide from the past and present helps you in having a more green holiday season!


Dave Altman

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