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Green Tips for the Holidays

So you live a green lifestyle all year long. You recycle, you minimize your impact by bringing your own bags and using a reusable cup for your morning coffee, you drive a low-emission car, and program your thermostat….you are set, right? Did you consider ways to green the holidays???? It doesn’t have to be difficult to make a difference!

* An obvious way would be to buy recycled wrapping paper, but you could take it a step further and use your old newspaper, or wrap it in another gift, such as a tablecloth, a scarf or a reusable shopping bag.

* As for the tree, real or fake? Cutting down trees and branches for decorations kills or injures trees, but a lot of the fake pine stuff is made from PVC which is toxic and energy intensive to make the plastic which releases gasses. There are fake pine decorations made from polyethylene which doesn’t carry the same health risks. Or use a potted real tree that can be planted in the spring.

*If you do use a real tree, be sure to give it new life at the end of the season! Mulch it or chip it. For more ideas check out the National Christmas Tree Association (www.realchristmastrees.org) and learn how to recycle it.

*LED lights are easy to find and will use a fraction of the energy that lights used to use. Use a timer for outdoor lights so they don’t stay on all night!

*Try upcycling! Get a little creative and turn something discarded into something usable. Recycle your old candles, jeans, tissue boxes, revamp glass bottles and jars, or turn old cookie tins into new fabulous gift tins. Pinterest.com is full of great ideas, just search UPCYCLE. There are thousands of ideas, surely one will appeal to you and your skill level.
Upcycle Candles
Glass Bottles and Jars
Give cookie tins a new life 

*Give green. Instead of giving someone another dust collector, donate to a charity that you or your recipient believe in. It’s a win-win! Some ideas to get you started:
Gifts that Give More
70 Years of Family Farming 
Sierra Club 
Nature Conservancy 

*If you do shop, shop local. Support the businesses in your local community and spend less gas driving all over. Art and craft shows are prevalent this time of year and you can support a local artist and give a gift of something thoughtful and artful. Pottery bowls can be esthetically pleasing and functional, or a hand knitted hat is stylish and warm.

*Eco-friendly gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Try gift cards for a group of friends to take a cooking class together. Make some jelly or jam, or bread that can be frozen for later. Be really green and give a worm composter so less food waste goes into the landfill. Try cloth dish towels and napkins as a gift to replace the paper ones. Give a fancy reusable water bottle or coffee/tea travel mug. Be super practical, and give LED bulbs or a blanket for the hot water heater. Reusable shopping bags are handy too! Programmable thermostat. Bus/train passes. Glass storage containers. A basket of nontoxic cleaners. Beeswax candles. Coupons to exchange for your time (ie babysitting or sharing a meal). Donate time to a local environmental group.

Eco Christmas
Eco Friendly Décor
Green Christmas 
Unique and Cheap Eco Friendly Gifts 
Green Gift Ideas

* December 30th is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! Otherwise known as ordinary baking soda, bicarb has so many uses it belongs in every green house. Surely you have used it for your baked goods….but have you tried it as a facial scrub? Toothpaste? Or even deodorant? A paste of baking soda can relieve the itch from bug bites, and putting it in a bath can help relieve itchy skin and help you relax. Use it as a scrub to remove burnt on stuff from your pots and pans, mix it with vinegar to clean your sinks and tub, or even sprinkle it on your carpet before vacuuming to remove odors. And if you overindulge this season, use half a teaspoon in a glass of water to help with heartburn and indigestion.

51 Uses for Baking Soda

Green Tips for a Happy Holiday

So you live a green lifestyle all year long. You recycle, you minimize your impact by bringing your own bags and using a reusable cup for your morning coffee, you drive a low emission car, and program your thermostat….you are set, right? Did you consider ways to green the holidays???? It doesn’t have to be difficult to make a difference!

* An obvious way would be to buy recycled wrapping paper, but you could take it a step further and use your old newspaper, or wrap it in another gift, such as a tablecloth, a scarf or a reusable shopping bag.

* As for the tree, real or fake? Cutting down trees and branches for decorations kills or injures trees, but a lot of the fake pine stuff is made from PVC which is toxic and energy intensive to make the plastic which releases gasses. There are fake pine decorations made from polyethylene which doesn’t carry the same health risks. Or use a potted real tree that can be planted in the spring.

*If you do use a real tree, be sure to give it new life at the end of the season! Mulch it or chip it. For more ideas check out the National Christmas Tree Association (www.realchristmastrees.org) and learn how to recycle it.

*LED lights are easy to find and will use a fraction of the energy that lights used to use. Use a timer for outdoor lights so they don’t stay on all night!

*Try upcycling! Get a little creative and turn something discarded into something usable. Recycle your old candles, jeans, tissue boxes,, revamp glass bottles and jars, or turn old cookie tins into new fabulous gift tins. Pinterest.com is full of great ideas, just search UPCYCLE. There are thousands of ideas, surely one will appeal to you and your skill level.
Upcycle Candles       http://www.happygoluckyblog.com/2011/11/easy-candle-upcycle.html
Glass Bottles and Jars   http://acultivatednest.com/2012/03/10-ways-to-upcycle-glass-bottles-jars/
Give cookie tins a new life   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/9499849190718319/

*Give green. Instead of giving someone another dust collector, donate to a charity that you or your recipient believe in. It’s a win-win! Some ideas to get you started:
Gifts that Give More http://thehungersite.greatergood.com/store/ths/category/253/gifts-that-give-more

70 Years of Family Farming     www.heifer.org
Sierra Club     http://vault.sierraclub.org/ways-to-give/
Nature Conservancy   http://gifts.nature.org/

*If you do shop, shop local. Support the businesses in your local community and spend less gas driving all over. Art and craft shows are prevalent this time of year and you can support a local artist and give a gift of something thoughtful and artful. Pottery bowls can be esthetically pleasing and functional, or a hand knitted hat is stylish and warm.

*Eco friendly gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Try gift cards for a group of friends to take a cooking class together. Make some jelly or jam, or bread that can be frozen for later. Be really green and give a worm composter so less food waste goes into the landfill. Try cloth dish towels and napkins as a gift to replace the paper ones. Give a fancy reusable water bottle or coffee/tea travel mug. Be super practical, and give LED bulbs or a blanket for the hot water heater. Reusable shopping bags are handy too! Programmable thermostat. Bus/train passes. Glass storage containers. A basket of nontoxic cleaners. Beeswax candles. Coupons to exchange for your time (ie babysitting or sharing a meal). Donate time to a local environmental group.

Eco Christmas   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carolyn-scott/merry-ecochristmas_b_2279620.html
Eco Friendly Décor   http://www.naturallivingideas.com/32-homemade-eco-friendly-christmas-decorations-that-look-stunning/
Green Christmas http://greenliving.about.com/od/thegreenfamily/tp/green_christmas.htm
Unique and Cheap Eco Friendly Gifts   http://www.moneycrashers.com/best-green-unique-gifts-ideas/
Green Gift Ideas   http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/gift-guides/9-upcycled-gifts-make-and-give-holiday-season/

* December 30th is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! Otherwise known as ordinary baking soda, bicarb has so many uses it belongs in every green house. Surely you have used it for your baked goods….but have you tried it as a facial scrub? Toothpaste? Or even deodorant? A paste of baking soda can relieve the itch from bug bites, and putting it in a bath can help relieve itchy skin and help you relax. Use it as a scrub to remove burnt on stuff from your pots and pans, mix it with vinegar to clean your sinks and tub, or even sprinkle it on your carpet before vacuuming to remove odors. And if you overindulge this season, use half a teaspoon in a glass of water to help with heartburn and indigestion.

51 Uses for Baking Soda http://www.care2.com/greenliving/51-fantastic-uses-for-baking-soda.html

 

Curb Alternatives

It doesn’t have to end this way.

  1. Treecycling Programs
    Tree recycling and mulching programs are offered in most towns and cities. Check with your local department of public works on whether your community has a pick up or if you need to drop off your tree to be made into mulch. Also in some places they offer mulch to be picked up for personal use.
  2. Give Cover
    If you would like, you can keep the tree and use the needles as mulch. Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly. Ground covering crops, such as strawberries love resting on these mold free and moisture hardy mulch. The boughs can also be cut off and used to layover perennial plants, protecting them from the snow and heavy frost.
  3. Chip, Chip Hooray
    A fun afternoon might be renting a chipper and making mulch for personal use. When spring comes you will be ready to spread the chips. Chips suppress weeds and when decomposition happens nutrients are released into your soil.
  4. Trunk Coasters (Yes, it’s a thing)
    If you prefer you can cut the trunk into 2 inch discs and line walkways and flower gardens. Thinner slabs cut off the trunk can be used as coasters. Just apply a thin coat of polyurethane to keep sap off your furniture and glassware.
  5. Bird Sanctuary
    If you have the space, take that tree in its stand outdoors. A Bird Sanctuary can be made by filling bird feeders and hanging them on boughs. Gather pine-cones and coat them with peanut butter and string popcorn. When the tree is brittle, chip it up into mulch.
  6. Burial at Sea/Pond
    If you live close to a lake or pond and your tree is chemical free, contact the proper authorities and find out if your tree can be sunk and made into a sheltering habitat for fish.
  7. Great Barrier Wreath
    Christmas Trees were used in New Jersey to help the sand dunes recover from Hurricane Sandy. If you live near a beach, you might call the local department of public works to see if Christmas Trees are used for shoreline stabilization.

So when the Holidays are over, don’t throw away that Real Christmas Tree. Take advantage of that tree being biodegradable and give back to the environment. A great way to be green.