Ten Tips for a Green Holiday

My stomach turns into knots every year as I take my nightly walk on trash day just after Christmas. Trash cans overflow with non-recyclable plastics from toys and games while piles of cardboard line the streets. A week later Christmas trees are dumped along roads or in parks by people who pay $40 for the tree and refuse to pay $5 to properly dispose of them.

Let's take a look at easy, affordable if not free ways to reduce carbon footprints and have a very merry and green holiday season.

1) Rather than buy name tags to put on packages, cut a small piece of wrapping paper instead. Close to a billion presents will be given this year. Eliminating that many tags reduces natural resources, energy to manufacture them and fuel consumed to get them to market.

2) Packages decorated with yards of ribbons and bows are pretty but they add to landfill waste and consume energy and fuel for manufacturing. This year go green and get playful instead. Children love being outdoors and feeding the birds. Decorate their package with a soot ball they can hang from a tree rather than a bow they yank off the box and toss in the trash. Is there a chocolate lover in the house? Tape a bar on the package and write the recipients name on the bar. Craft persons, wood workers, fishermen or hunters always need new supplies or the latest gadget and those items make a delightful and appreciated addition to a package. Small books are a thoughtful box topper. Children love finger puppets so add a few to their box. A recipe for your favorite dish is always enjoyed or perhaps an individual packet of hot chocolate or tea bag. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

3) Speaking of wrapping paper, young children love reading the funny pages and it doesn't matter to them if they have read them before. The funnies are colorful and the kids can read them as they sit under the tree. Even better, wrap their gift with art paper or coloring book pages and color their gift together. The Christmas my son turned 15, I wrapped his gifts with maps of various cities around our area. One requisite to his getting his driver's license the next year was he had to learn to read and follow a map.

4) When placing a phone order or an online order, tell the shipper to put your packing slip inside the box and not in the usual envelope they stick on the outside of the box. Those package envelopes are a huge waste of paper and resources and are not necessary. Remember to think large scope. If 300,000 boxes are shipped in the next two weeks, the reduction of paper is tremendous. Make this a year round habit.

5) Put together a list of things needed for dinners, entertaining etc. and combine trips rather than make last minute darts to the store. Those extra trips consume thousands of gallons of fuel. Then keep up the practice all year.

6) Just because tradition calls for putting up Christmas lights up during Thanksgiving does not mean they need to be turned on. Wait until the 15th of December to start turning on the lights. Then plug them into a timer that shuts off at 10 PM. The energy savings is tremendous.

7) Opt for an artificial tree this year rather than a real tree. Goodwill and other thrift stores carry them and I've seen really nice trees for excellent prices in these stores. Thousands of gallons of fuel are consumed transporting trees to their destinations. Yes artificial trees require natural resources for manufacturing but it is a one time proposition. If you prefer a regular tree cut your own at a local tree farm. Buying local is good for the local economy and good for Mother Earth.

8) This is not just for the holiday. Turn the heat down one or two degrees at night and 10 degrees if you are gone for even half the day. Then set the thermostate to turn up the heat a half hour before you arise or return home.

9) Buy gifts from local craftspeople or local companies. These gifts usually don't come encased in plastic bubble packaging with a ton of cardboard surrounding it. Did I mention the benefits to buying local?

10) This year give yourself a gift of a vegetable garden. It's the healthiest thing you can do for you and your family. If you don't have yard space, large hanging baskets make excellent containers for salad fixings. Water them daily and feed them once a week. Planter boxes are great for carrots, beets, onions, garlic, herbs and other small veggies. You will feel better and save a bundle of money at the grocery store. What better way to reduce carbon footprints than to grow your own food. Be careful - it's addictive!

This article may only be reprinted giving full credit to Mary Findley and her website Copyright @2010. All rights reserved worldwide

About Mary

Mary Findley is a veteran cleaning expert and Founder of Mary Moppins. Mary built the company on the idea that she could create a way to make green cleaning easier, which inspired her to co-author "The Complete Idiots Guide to Green Cleaning" available on Amazon. The Mary Moppins line of specially designed cleaning tools are eco-friendly, yet industrial strength to give you the cleaning power you need to clean quickly and thoroughly.