I was just writing a blog about how to minimize the impacts of the holidays-Christmas and others-on the environment. Of course there are the obvious things that many have been doing for years-minimize the use of lights and using energy efficient lights, use cartoons from the newspaper as wrapping (my mom used to look for cartoons or articles that would be significant to the recipient-some of these were great; my assistants have long thought that not using wrapping was Scrooge like but I don't think so at all) or at least using reusable gift bags; and of course bringing your own cloth bag shopping to save on excessive use of plastic store bags; I personally used to use real potted trees that i could replant in my yard but since they don't survive too well, I have replaced this-I was fortunate to run into a man at the East Side Culture Crawl a few years ago who made these lovely wooden Dr. Seuss trees (well that's what they look like to me anyhow) in various sizes. They have one string of lights on them and they look lovely. I bought a "grove" of 3 trees of varying sizes and they look great-when lit up with natural cedar, pine and other essential oils, i think it may be better than the real thing! Of course living in the Cove means that there are so many trees around that you might be able to just put lights on one outside and save the mess of falling needles in the house!
Anyhow, as I was saying, I was making a list of ideas for this blog when I found some other websites with most of my ideas already in print so here they are (see below for links for green gifts and more ideas):
I agree with many of his points although I am not keen on cutting down the trees, I think we all have to sacrifice where we can and keep the things that are really important to us so if someone really wants a tree then they should have one! So here's his blog:
The holidays are a wonderful time of year. We gather with friends, family and loved ones and take some time to share how much we mean to each other.
However, for the earth, the holidays are not quite as much fun. Millions of people drive hundreds of miles to buy gifts, which throws millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Thousands of trees are cut down to produce tons of wrapping paper, which is used to wrap gifts and is then discarded into our landfills. Millions of holidays lights twinkle, using up thousands of kilowatt hours and throwing more CO2 into the atmosphere.
So, can we have our holidays and eat them too? Sure we can, we just have to think, and act, outside of the box a little bit. So, what can we do to make our holidays greener? Here is a short list of some easy ideas to green your holiday.
- Buy used gifts. Before you buy something new, check to see if you can get it used instead. You can find great gifts online at ebay, craigslist and Freecycle. Local used bookstores offer great books, CD's and DVD's at great prices. Local thrift stores can sometimes provide some great gifts as well.
- Buy your gifts online. Not only will you avoid the mass mobs at the mall, but you will save CO2 emissions and probably some money too! UPS, FedEx and the USPS are going to be delivering mail no matter what you do, so you may as well have your gifts come in a truck filled with other gifts than get into your car and make repeated trips to the mall.
- It's all in the cards. How many holiday cards do you receive each year? Now take that number and multiply it by 5 million. Scary isn't it? This year, send an electronic holiday card or buy cards made from recycled or seeded paper. Doing so can save millions of trees.
- Use Green holiday lights. Holiday lights are beautiful, but they waste energy and are costly (they can add a good $20-$50 to your holiday electric bill). Instead of using those old bulb lights, get some new solar or LED lights. Solar lights have a solar panel that traps energy from the sun during the day to power the lights at night. LED lights use electricity, but are MUCH more efficient than normal bulb lights.
- Get creative with your wrapping. Most commercial wrapping paper is not recyclable and ends up in landfills. So, instead of using that stuff, use old newspapers, maps, magazine pages, or recycled paper. According to the Sierra Club, if every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
- Recycle your Christmas tree. Millions of Christmas trees are thrown into landfills each year. Since a Christmas tree is, well, a TREE, is can be recycled in most areas! Check with your city/county to see if it offers programs to turn your tree to mulch or wood chips. Or, call (800) CLEANUP or visit www.earth911.org to find the tree-recycling program near you.
He also refers people to other sites:
I would add to this list (although I make no guarantees about these sites-i have not tried them all):
www.treehugger.com/files/2005/11/holiday_gifts_f.php - 116k - it has some great ideas grouped based on the type of person the recipient is
http://www.planetfriendly.net/gifts.html#places (Canadian options)
http://www.vancouverplus.ca/feature/christmas/60069/green.jsp (even more local-Vancouver!)
http://www.greeneyedfrog.co.uk/Public/ (a little further away-the UK)
http://shop.wwf.org.uk/eco_gifts (check out the half price elephants and coconut bowls :-)
there are tons more sites like these...I would need to spend all day on this blog to get them all but if anyone reading this has ideas, please let me know
then of course there are the sites where you can protect animals or enviro amenities (such as http://www.awf.org/content/action- and i swear the gorilla on that save the gorillas home page is one that I met when I was in Rwanda-and I am serious-i have his picture and there are only so many families of them!) and give that as a gift-more on that later!