by Carlie C, MSI Instructor
It’s easy to get wrapped up in excess around the holidays. But there are many eco-friendly options you can try this year to help reduce your impact on the environment.
Contrary to popular belief, artificial trees can be more detrimental to the environment than real trees. Many are made overseas using harmful chemicals and lead. The materials required for plastic trees and the carbon emissions associated with shipping make them a harmful alternative. Fortunately, there are some green options:
- Support local farmers and eliminate the need for shipping by purchasing a real Christmas tree grown right here in the Bay Area. After Christmas, be sure to check your local waste management’s Christmas tree recycling program. Many cities repurpose these trees by turning them into mulch.
- Plant your own, or rent a tree. Some tree farmers are starting to realize the demand for eco-friendly trees, and have started to rent potted Christmas trees. The same tree can be requested annually so your family can see how it has grown. You can also plant your own potted tree and bring it indoors for the holidays.
- If you don’t want to hassle with refilling a tree stand and sweeping pine needles, there are many space saving and creative alternative tree options. You can see some examples here.
Gift wrapping is one of the easiest ways to reuse and recycle materials during the holidays. Old newspapers, magazines, and even maps can make great wrapping material. A reusable bag can hold a gift, and also be a part of the present. Whether you have reusable materials or buy paper from the store, you can still be eco-conscious by making sure that papers and plastics make their way to the recycling bin after they are no longer useable. Bows, tags, ribbon, and tissue paper can all be saved and used for many years.
One of the greenest holiday decorations (literally!) are pine boughs and wreaths. Fresh cuttings can be purchased from local farms, farmers markets, or even picked from your own backyard. They make great outdoor decorations, and can even be used indoors as centerpieces.
Outdoor lighting is festive and bright, but it can also wreak havoc on your energy bill. Lights hooked up to a timer can save energy and money by making sure that they are only on during certain nighttime hours. LED lights are an energy efficient alternative that use a fraction of the energy associated with other lights. LEDs are becoming much more popular and affordable, and can be found in a variety of shapes and colors. You can even conduct a scientific experiment and make your own LED light!
These are just a few small changes you can adopt to make a positive environmental impact this holiday season. We might not get a white Christmas around the Bay Area, but we can do our part to make it a ‘green’ holiday season.