Ten tips for an eco-wise Christmas
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's day, Americans throw
away a million extra tons of garbage each week, including
holiday wrapping and packaging, according to Robert Lilienfeld
co-author of the book "Use Less Stuff: Environmental
Solutions for Who We Really Are." This year, Americans
will send nearly 2 billion holiday cards, use more than 38,000
miles of ribbon and leave millions of Christmas trees on the
Here are ten tips for an ecological Christmas:
1. Do not send a traditional card but use
an electronic card which does not require physical resources
to make or distribute. Many electronic cards can be personalized.
for example this one.
2. Stop using plastic Christmas decorations.
Make them yourself from, for example, recycled paper.
Artist Jeff Clapp turns empty aluminum oxygen canisters
from Mt. Everest into decorative bells for $2,400 each.
Leftover aluminum shavings are also used, making nice
tree ornaments that someone might actually buy (the
"Everest" balls are $48 for four at Eco-Artware.com)
3. Use LED lights. Trade in the old
style light bulbs with modern LED lights. LED lights
use 80-90% less energy compared to old light bulbs.
You can also use living lights like people do in many
countries. You can chose soy, vegetable, wax or beeswax
candles all of which are renewable and biodegradable
materials rather than paraffin wax candles.
4. Plan your shopping trip. Go where
you need to go but do all your shopping at once to avoid
5. Avoid new shopping bags when you buy
Christmas presents. Are you afraid of being stopped for
shoplifting? Danny Seo, the author of "Simply Green
Giving" attaches his receipts to the outside of shopping
bags with a paper clip.
6. Pack your presents in ordinary gift wrapping.
Be creative. Use newspaper or colorful pages from magazines.
You can also pack presents in a beautiful scarf and make
the packaging part of the present.
7. Buy alternative Christmas presents
such as gift certificates to charitable organizations. Oxfamamericaunwrapped.com
invites donors to "buy," among other things, a
camel ($175), a cow ($75), a sheep ($45), building tools
($25) or finance the planting of 50 trees ($30) as a way
to support Oxfam's
programs in developing countries. Another alternative
is to give friends items that save energy, such as low-flow
shower heads and fluorescent light bulbs, which use much
less energy than candescent bulbs.
8. Buy a genuine Christmas tree. Artificial
trees can be difficult to dispose of. Genuine Christmas
trees can be burned or made into compost. New trees are
replanted each year but you can also buy a Christmas tree
with roots which can be replanted into the ground so that
you can reuse the tree next year. Friends of the Urban Forest
of San Francisco (Fuf.net)
rents nontraditional trees, such as Southern Magnolia and
Strawberry, for $150, and replants them on city streets
once Christmas is over.
9. Deck the table with clay or porcelain plates
and use cutlery made of metal which can be washed and reused
again and again.
10. Use cold water to do the dishes after
Christmas dinner. You will discover that it can certainly
be done. Use ecological dish soap such as Ecover Ecological
Washing Tablets or others..