Five Steps to a Greener Holiday Season

Feature story - December 2, 2004
The holiday season is now upon us. It's the perfect time of year to gather together with family and friends and celebrate all of the wonderful things this season has to offer. But for many Americans, this time of year has turned into a frenzy of shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating and traveling. If you think all those mad dashes to the mall takes a toll on you, just think of how these activities impact the environment. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy the holidays and still be good to the Earth.

High Knob area of the Jefferson National Forest

  • A living, potted Christmas tree is the best option for the holiday season. You can plant it outside after the holidays, or donate it to a local school or park. Small, potted trees are a great option as they can be kept in their pot and used again next year. If you use a cut tree, ask your city hall about recycling. You can even chip the tree yourself and use it to mulch your garden. If you must buy an artificial tree, make sure that it is not made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
  • Holiday lights use a lot of energy, especially when left on around the clock. Only use the lights when you are going to enjoy them - in the evening - then turn them off before you go to bed. To make it easy, put them on a timer. Try to use LED bulbs - they use a tenth of the energy of mini-bulbs and a hundredth of the energy of incandescent bulbs!
  • Use natural decorations - gingerbread cookies, popcorn strings, candy canes and cinnamon sticks are a great alternative to store bought variety and a fun project for young children.
  • When purchasing presents, avoid products that are heavily packaged, made from PVC or from tropical wood, such as mahogany.
  • Try to cut back on your use of paper. The holiday season contributes more to landfills than any other time of year. Send e-cards to friends, reuse last year's wrapping paper, and write names directly on the wrapped gifts. Remember to save this year's paper too! When entertaining, avoid using disposable cups, plates, utensils and napkins. If you must use disposables, always choose recycled paper products.

Last, but not least, if you're looking for a gift for that special someone who has everything, consider a gift membership to Greenpeace. You would be hard-pressed to find a more environmentally friendly present! During this season of giving, please remember to give to Greenpeace and the planet too.

Green Living Every Day!

Check out these helpful tips in our Green Living Guide. Learn how to step a little lighter on the Earth, not just for the holiday season, but year round!