Looking for a way to "green" your holiday? The Izaak Walton League has 10 tips to get you started, from natural tree decorations to cutting down on food and packaging waste.
- Instead of wrapping paper, use gift bags. They are just as festive and can be used many times over. Consider festive bags that can be used later for grocery shopping. You can also make the “wrapping” part of the gift by using baskets, jars, or fabric.
- Opt for a locally grown Christmas tree. Artificial trees can be reused but are material intensive and difficult to recycle once they need replacing. Ultimately, trees from a farm are a renewable resource. Many communities now have composting or wood chipping programs for Christmas trees. Call your local parks department or recycling center to learn more. You can buy a live Christmas tree, but give some thought to where you can plant the tree after the holidays are over.
- Try thrift shops for holiday decorations instead of raiding the local craft store. Get creative and find items that you can clean up or repurpose for creating a holiday atmosphere.
- Use natural items for decorating, such as a popcorn garland instead of tinsel, cinnamon sticks instead of plastic air fresheners. Use real pine boughs, pine cones, holly, ivy, and cranberries. Check out your own yard as well as local garden shops. When the holidays are over, everything can be composted.
- If you’re hosting a holiday party, ask guests to bring a donation for your favorite conservation group in lieu of a host/hostess present. You’ll support good work and won’t have to re-gift that fruitcake!
- Shop with the environment in mind. Look for items that have recycled content and limited packaging. How about rechargeable batteries (with a charger) for toys and electronics? Consider eco-friendly products, such as locally produced food and handmade items. Online retailers such as Amazon.com allow you to ask that your purchases be shipped together rather than separately, cutting back on packaging and shipping.
- Buy used. It may not be shiny and packaged in plastic, but you can keep a few things out of the landfill and save money. Check out the many online options for free-cycling and buying used items. As a bonus, you won’t have to fight crowds at the mall.
- Switch to energy efficient light displays. Replace old light strands with newer, more energy-efficient versions. LED lights use less energy. (Look for "warm white" bulbs if you like the look of old incandescent lights.) Use a timer to turn lights on and off automatically, and don’t keep lights on all night long.
- Plan out meals to minimize leftovers. Americans throw away more than 20 pounds of food each month. Try not to overcook during the holidays and send leftovers home with guests. If you do end up with leftovers that you can't eat, compost them.
- Cut back on “stuff.” Instead, focus on family, friends, and quality time. Make the holidays about making memories and enjoying the natural beauty of the season.
The Izaak Walton League wishes you and your family a very happy holiday season.