Dreaming of a “green” Christmas

While many people are wishing for a white Christmas, the planet is hoping for a green one.

Christmas time is the perfect opportunity to get into the recycling spirit and create new traditions that benefit the environment. The Christmas season can either be an environmental dream-come-true, or a nightmare. With trees being cut down, toy boxes and wrapping paper being tossed into the garbage and lights being strung up by the thousands, the holidays can take a toll on the earth. By making just a few simple changes, families can greatly reduce their impact on the environment this holiday season.

One thing to take into consideration is whether to invest in an artificial Christmas tree or to choose a real one. There are pros and cons to both types, but either can become environmentally friendly if taken care of properly. Live trees are biodegradable, can be recycled and smell terrific, but they can also be loaded with pesticides and could have been shipped across the country, adding to pollution.

The best route to take when buying a live tree is to buy one from a local farm or from as close to its source as possible. Consumers should also be sure to recycle the tree when the season is over.

Artificial trees provide simplicity by eliminating yearly tree shopping and therefore, can be less expensive in the long run than live trees. However, most are made in China and are usually made of non-biodegradable materials.

When buying an artificial tree, make sure it was made in the USA, and once the season is over, give it to someone who wants it or find a recycling website that will take care of it.

Gift giving is another important aspect of the Christmas season, sand another opportunity to think green. Unfortunately, toy companies are one of the worst offenders of excessive packaging; they often add an unnecessary amount of plastic, cardboard and metal twist ties.

Thankfully, there are gifts that come with little packaging and a lot of love. Certificates and gift cards require little to no packaging and also eliminate the need to throw out an unwanted gift.

Homemade gifts like cookies or a knitted scarf cut down on gift packaging and shipping, and also have more meaning than something store bought.

Another wasteful aspect of gift giving is the shiny wrapping paper. Instead of using store-bought paper, opt for newspaper or magazine pages to help the environment. Another way to reduce wrapping paper waste is not to use it at all. If a bare gift is too boring, a good way to disguise a gift is to simply hide it and provide fun clues to find it, turning a gift into a game. If standard wrapping paper is a must, make sure to recycle it after the gift is opened.

Christmas can be a very wasteful holiday, but doing it right can really cut back on the trash and pollution. By thinking green this holiday season, families can spread the love and save the world.

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