A Colorful and Green Christmas
Is Christmas synonymous with environmental damage? Of course not! Especially if one is not tempted to buy mountains of presents! This is the perfect time for you to show how much you care about your loved ones as well as the planet.
Small, symbolic gestures and creative ideas to celebrate Christmas are always appreciated. They show gratitude towards loved ones and, if you think about it, are worth more than all of the presents you will find in stores and shopping malls.
You can start with the Christmas lights that decorate your home. Most people nowadays light them up on or after December 1st. This saves on electricity and you get a more concentrated amount of Christmas magic! For more savings, add a timer and set it to turn on the lights from 5PM to midnight. Plus, some work using solar power, or get LED lights which use up much less energy.
Afterwards, there are the ornaments. Some are not recyclable; others take quite a lot of space in the dumpster (not to mention the basement!) and they often break easily. If you absolutely want some, why not find some that are high-quality and durable? Many artisans make some that are sure to win you over! Now, for the tree: there is a lot of controversy surrounding it because of ecological reasons, such as its manufacturing, its transportation, what it is made of, where it is from, how long you keep it, the way to dispose of it, and so on. Actually, if you are going to keep your artificial tree for more than 20 years, that’s fine! However, if you know you will be throwing it out before, then get a natural one because it generates much less greenhouse gases. They are often recuperated by the city in January.
As for the tree’s decorations, try to use the same ones for a period of at least a few years. Many people want to remain in fashion when it comes to decorating their home and tree. However, if you must get new ones each year, look for them in yard sales, or use old jewelry or toys. You can even ask the kids to make some. Or, if you can find someone to swap with, then by all means, do so!
After, if you are the type of person who enjoys sending and receiving a greeting card by mail, you can always consider virtual cards, but they are just not the same. You can play down your eco-footprint by making them yourself. You can use a picture, or better yet, purchase the ones that are made by local artisans and/or are printed on 100% post-consumer paper.
Then, when you choose presents, there are many things to consider. Are they useful? Are they made locally? Were they made by an artisan? Could you have made it yourself? Does it encourage culture? Does it support fair-trade markets? Does it have too much packaging? Is there one you could find used or recycled? Does it motivate the one receiving it to become more active? Is it organic? Is it long-lasting? In order to find presents that answer to all or at least some of these conditions, visit a local Christmas market.
Another way to please someone (but choose the right people, of course) is to make a donation to a charity that the person in question holds dear to his or her heart. Or, you can take someone to see a play or a concert. Also, you can buy a gift certificate for something that person truly needs. Taking a person out to get some much-needed exercise is another way; or, you can give a hand to an elderly person with the house chores, such as cleaning. Buying a book is often welcome. Offering transportation, such as a bus pass, is also great! Plus, there is a wide variety of ecological clothing and fair-trade products, such as coffee, tea, spices, oil, and crafts. Some other people would be very happy if you cooked for them, too.
Now, you will surely want to treat your children to toys and other gifts – which is quite normal! But, how about you give used articles a try? You could end up finding some very interesting treasures, on top of finding loads of pleasure at an affordable price! If not, focus on natural and recycled materials, or opt for traditional gifts that they could treasure for a long time, such as marbles, a magazine subscription, a photo album, special activities, sports equipment, and so on.
In the end, you will surely also want to wrap your gifts. There are ways to do this without harming the planet. There is the possibility of reusing gift bags, or make yours from cloth, newspaper, paper bags, and so on. You can reuse metal cookie or cereal boxes for some of the gifts. You just need to be creative with the decorations!
With these tips and tricks in mind, you will surely have a wonderful holiday season while thinking about the health of our beloved planet!
Photo credit: flickr.com