Christmas is a favorite time of year for many, but it can also be a time of overconsumption. All those lights, decorations and gift wrappings can be tough on the environment (and they’re not so great on your bank account either), so take a little advice and make this year’s Christmas a bit greener.
- Tree tips: It might seem like getting a fake tree is better for the environment than going out and cutting down a real one, but in fact the opposite is true. Real Christmas trees are both renewable and recyclable. Compared with all the energy and materials that go into manufacturing and shipping artificial trees, a real tree has virtually no impact on the environment, especially if you buy from a local tree farm, which eliminates shipping. Another great option is to purchase a live tree with balled and burlapped roots, which you can actually plant when the holiday season is over.
- Lighting options: There are a few ways to cut down and the cost an energy use that comes with Christmas lights. Hooking them up to a timer is a good start; that way you can choose exactly which hours of the day your lights stay on. Another option is to replace old strings of incandescent Christmas lights with LEDs. LED lights last ten times longer and use 75 to 90 percent less energy. The most environmentally-friendly lights of all are solar. They may cost around four times as much as LEDs, but they cost nothing whatsoever to run.
- Decorations: When it comes to Christmas decorations, you can help the environment by buying locally made items, as opposed to mass-produced factory decorations. Better still, get the kids involved and make your own decorations as a do-it-yourself project. If you do buy decorations at a store, look items like wreaths and garlands that are made from real trees.
- Wrapping paper: Look for wrapping paper that is made from recycled materials and natural dyes, and especially avoid glossy and metallic wrapping papers. They contain chemicals that make them difficult to recycle. Consider using plain corrugated cardboard – which is among the easiest materials to recycle – for gifts that require boxes. Save any used boxes, gift bags and wrapping paper that can be used again.