Ah Christmas, a time for giving, a time for… conserving? While the holidays are often connected with a bit of indulgence, it doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to lessen our impact on the environment during the festive season.
From your choice of Christmas tree to the type of wrapping paper you use, you can be make a difference on how you affect the world around you. Here are seven tips to help you be as friendly as possible to the planet while also celebrating with friends and family…
1. Choose a Real Tree
If you haven’t already put up your Christmas tree, you may be just a little behind. In any case, you still have a choice to make: real or artificial? While some might think that cutting down a tree is worse for the environment than using a “faux fir,” they should think again.
Good Housekeeping explains that artificial trees are filled with synthetic materials that can’t be recycled (not to mention they’re often shipped in from foreign countries), and most people discard them every few years – and they head straight to a landfill. If you already have an artificial tree, use it as long as you can by taking care of it, and then switch to a real tree that’s native to the area you live in (so it may be replanted), it adds.
2. Buy Rechargeable Batteries
So many toys, so many batteries! While there are countless games and gadgets that require batteries, you can choose the rechargeable route to help ensure less batteries end up in the garbage, suggests TheGuardian.com.
“Batteries contain toxic chemicals, do not biodegrade and are difficult to recycle,” says the source. As an alternative, choose rechargeable batteries – and the site even points out there is a newer versions of rechargeable batteries that can plug directly into any USB connector when you flip open the battery cap.
3. Green Your Gifts
Speaking of toys, games and other gifts, many of them are shipped in from outside the U.S. and contain a lot of packaging. However, WebMD points out instead of giving “material” gifts, you may want to consider giving “experiential” gifts instead this year (or next).
The experiential gifts are probably as you suspect – instead of objects to be played with, they provide experiences. Examples include tickets to the museum or a sporting event, it adds. Gift cards to download music are also a good choice. “This is very positive because you’re giving an experience, not a thing, and those kinds of experiences stay with us longer anyway,” it adds.
4. Reconsider Your Gift Wrap
Instead of covering all your presents in wrapping paper that can end up in a landfill, think about eco-friendly ways to hide a surprise from prying eyes, explains Inhabitat.com. These alternatives can also add more of a personal touch to a gift.
Some of the ideas provided by the source include using a fabric gift-wrap – consider pillowcases or even tablecloths, it adds. “Fabric can be knotted, pinned, or tied with a ribbon,” it says. You can also re-use this option. Another aesthetically pleasing way to wrap gifts is by finding old newspapers or maps. You can also source recycled-only wrapping paper from stores, it adds.
5. Use Natural Decorations
Just like you should consider a real Christmas tree, the same goes for the decorations around your home. The Telegraph UK suggests ditching artificial decorations that don’t biodegrade and instead “let nature decorate your home.”
The source suggests using real Holly, berries and ivy draped over picture frames and mantelpieces as the “perfect alternative to tacky tinsel and plastic baubles”. Apparently buying your own holly tree is another option to have a fresh stock every year, it adds.
6. Use the Right Lights
Christmas lighting is pretty much an essential of decorating for the season, but instead of using those old, clunky strings of incandescent bulbs from the 1980’s for indoors and outdoors, switch to LED lights.
TodaysHomeowner.com explains that LEDs use 80-percent less energy and last 10-times longer than traditional bulbs, which could also save you money in the long run. They also don’t heat up like some bulbs, so you don’t have to worry about little fingers getting singed. You should also consider putting lights on a timer or shut them off before heading to bed to save more power, it adds.
7. Send E-Cards Instead
If you’ve been too busy to rush out and buy (non-recycled) Christmas cards, don’t worry. It’s likely too late to mail any in time, but there’s a way you can get card to all your loved ones in a matter of minutes: by creating an electronic card you can send to an inbox instead of a mailbox.
You can opt to create a custom e-card with a photo you took for that personal touch, or you can visit a site that has e-cards already ready to send out electronically. You’ll save money and lessen the impact on Mother Earth. Punchbowl.com offers some handy options for e-cards if you’re stuck.