Did you know that in the U.S. waste increases by almost 30 percent between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the New Year? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this translates to an additional 1 million tons of added packaging, food waste, shopping bags, wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons tossed into our landfills. Additionally, according to Use Less Stuff, a consumer advocacy group, of the 50 million Christmas trees purchased, over 30 million are winding up in landfills. How can we celebrate the holidays without sacrificing our green ethos? It’s time to take a step back and embrace simplicity and tradition. If giving is the true meaning behind the holiday spirit, can we think of other ways to give? And, when making purchases, can we make choices that positively affect the planet? Here are some ways you can continue your green commitment and find joy this holiday season.
Give Green: Give organic and eco-friendly gift baskets through www.ecoexpress.com or the Green Perspective, http://thegreenperspective.com. Also, try making gifts from something you have already. Go to www.etsy.com for inspiration.
Wrap Green: Pick up Danny Seo’s Simply Green Giving (Collins Living, 2006) for alternative solutions to conventional gift wrap. Use old newspaper and magazines with hemp twine to wrap gifts. Buy gift cards or plant a tree for someone you love through www.americanforests.org.
Go Out into Nature: Find an inspiring hiking trail near you on www.americanhiking.org
Start a Tradition: Start or bring back an old tradition you can do with your friends and family. For ideas go to www.familyfun.com. My daughter and I like to bake organic cookies and decorate them with non-toxic food coloring.
Entertain Green: Reduce waste by recycling; cook with organic ingredients; and donate leftovers to a food shelter near you. Buy organic wine at www.organicvintners.com
Travel Green: Carpool, pack light, and purchase carbon offsets at www.terrapass.com
Give Back: Reach out to a neighbor or someone at work that you have not had the time to get to know. Bring them some cookies.
and lastly: Stop, breathe, take a break, have a cup of tea, and do your best to keep it simple.