Guide to Sustainable Merry-Making
There is symmetry between living in an eco-conscious manner and the spirit of Christmas. Striving for peace on Earth and good will to all can also be expressed in reducing the holiday’s impact on the planet.
• Alternatives to a cut or artificial plastic Christmas tree abound. Purchase a potted tree to replant later; buy from a local Whole Foods grocer or farmers’ market, even seek out an organically grown tree; or make an artful tree from driftwood or a large houseplant.
• Instead of hanging plastic icicles and placing Styrofoam ornaments on Christmas tree branches, go natural and unique. MindfulMomma.com suggests checking nearby woods or gardens for pine cones, evergreen boughs, bark, holly berries and fresh mistletoe; those living close to coastlines can pick up seashells with holes in them. TipJunkie.com guidelines include making paper ornaments and holiday yarn pieces.
• Save energy in tree lighting. Today’s LEDs look good, use up to 75 percent less power and typically last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, reports the U.S. Department of Energy. Turn them off when not at home and overnight.
• Consolidate shopping trips to reduce fuel emissions and buy gifts that support the community. Buy from independent, locally owned stores or galleries that showcase local artists, instead of from national retailers whose products are shipped from faraway places. Consider choosing gifts in the sustainable realm like solar-powered chargers for e-devices. Share gift certificates for holistic services or art classes. Use reusable tote bags when shopping.
• Give of yourself. Play outside as a family. Gift a collect-on-delivery IOU for skills or assistance based on personal talents. The most meaningful gift of all may be writing an admiring letter from the heart.
• According to MotherEarthLiving.com, Americans generate 25 percent more waste during the holidays, much of it wrapping paper and cards. Don’t overdo it with tape when wrapping presents and then instruct everyone to carefully unwrap them so the paper can be stored and reused next year. Instead of buying and snail-mailing holiday cards, send emails with photo attachments of the family.
This article appears in the December 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.