It was Bing Crosby who immortalized a white Christmas in his 1942 hit single, but these days more and more eco-conscious consumers are dreaming of a green Christmas instead. If you're looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint this holiday season, consider these tips from Director of Sustainability Dedee DeLongpré Johnston:
Use sustainable gift-wrap.
Consider saving and re-using holiday wrapping paper just as your grandmother once did. Or wrap your gifts in pretty fabric that can be used for other purposes. "In my family, we re-gift gift bags again and again," DeLongpré Johnston says. "Pillowcases can also make pretty gift wraps if done right."
Decorate with energy-efficient lighting.
While many people still use standard incandescent holiday bulbs, decorative LED lights are now available in a variety of holiday shapes and colors. In addition to having a much longer lifespan than standard lights, LEDs also reduce fire risks because they stay cool to the touch. "This would be one of the areas where you might spend a little more upfront, but save in the long run." Want to be even greener? Use light-sensor timers to turn your lights on and off.
Give consumable gifts.
Most of us don't need any more stuff, or as DeLongpré Johnston points out, we're all "stuffed out." So consider giving the gift of services instead, or goods that can be consumed. Some ideas include massages, pedicures, tickets to sporting events, gift certificates for restaurants and other similar pampering treats. Other options would be to give consumable gifts that keep on giving all year long like a membership to a Wine of the Month Club or a monthly delivery of seasonal fruits grown locally. Says DeLongpré Johnston: "It doesn't mean you have to be any less generous."
Make a donation in someone's name.
If someone has a passion in life, giving to an organization that supports their cause can be very meaningful. Whether you donate a flock of chicks to support a hungry family through Heifer International or fund the planting of trees through American Forest, you will be giving a gift that gives back and helps preserve the environment at the same time.
Give the gift of time.
Schedule time to get together with friends and family for cookie exchanges or other meaningful holiday events. "We do have the ability as individuals and families to bring whatever intention to this season that we want," DeLongpré Johnston says. "So we can share meals and share time with one another, and if we'd like to give each other gifts, we can do that too."
If you have a cut tree, check with your local municipality to find out when they will pick it up for recycling. Fortunately, you'll be in good company. More than 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year, but more than 90 percent are being recycled for mulch or chipped and used in parks and other public spaces.