It wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, and my family, especially my two boys, was already getting anxious about the holidays.
Christmas lists were being drawn up as a daily afternoon activity. My wife was busy planning dinners and holiday drinks. And our parents’ usual arm wrestle over who would get us for the holidays had boiled down to a negotiation for the following year.
The holiday season is absolutely amazing in that it starts out with a crazy frenzy of anxious chaos and ends with everyone carrying candles down Main Street, singing arm in arm about peace on earth. All the intentions are good, but somehow the methods seem like madness. Maybe that’s not just Christmas.
A tremendous amount of waste and excess is squashed between all of our good thoughts and neighborly feelings over the holidays. Between the incredible spike in electricity consumption due to Christmas lights and the huge amount of waste generated through present wrapping, our standard holiday practices can certainly use some refinement as we head into the 21st century.
Just as no one gives a pet rock or 8-track tape as a present any longer, there are age-old holiday practices that should, well, be left for the ages.
So, as Thanksgiving has slipped behind us and our thoughts become preoccupied with Christmas trees, menorahs, presents, parties and New Year plans, let’s give Mother Earth the best present of all this year. Here is a list of 10 tips, and a cocktail, that will ensure that everyone (adults only for the cocktail) enjoys this holiday season, as well as many to come.
Green Tip No. 1
Use LED lights on your Christmas tree. Whereas 10 strands of traditional lights use approximately $172 worth of electricity per month, 10 strands of LED lights use less than a dollar in the same amount of time.
Green Tip No. 2
Buy a real Christmas tree, never a fake one. The Christmas tree industry is one of the best examples of sustainably managed agriculture in America. Fake trees are horrible examples of the use of petrochemicals and plastics.
Green Tip No. 3
Buy locally made gifts for your friends and family. Support your local merchants and neighbors during the holidays.
Green Tip No. 4
Wrap presents in newspaper and other bits of scrap paper found around the house. Be creative.
Green Tip No. 5
If using wrapping paper, buy those with recycled content and never ones with metallic surfaces, which can’t be recycled.
Green Tip No. 6
Check the labels on the gifts you buy. Look for items that use recycled material, are able to be recycled, contain low volatile organic compound (VOC) finishes, and, most importantly, will have lasting value to the person to whom you are giving. Items that will be thrown away within weeks are useless. If you must give something without lasting value, be sure to choose something edible instead.
Green Tip No. 7
Have a vegetarian day with your family over the holiday. Even if everyone hates the food, it will open up a lot of minds to thinking about what they are eating.
Green Tip No. 8
Bring a gift to someone in your neighborhood who doesn’t have family around.
Green Tip No. 9
Give gifts of time instead of material items. For example, take someone out for dinner, to the movies or on a private beach walk instead of giving a gift that will be put on a shelf and most likely end up in a landfill.
Green Tip No. 10
Go caroling. Spend time with friends. Take extra time off for your children and family. Building stronger communities is one of the best ways we have of fighting the Earth’s problems.
And now, the cocktail:
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