It's the most wonderful time of the year... although, you wouldn't know it by the very mild weather we're having in mid-November. For the next six weeks, my blog will be dedicated to the holidays. I'll cover decorating, holiday cards, gift wrap, gift ideas (including homemade), and what to do with it all when it's over. (For those scrooges who would rather not deal with the holidays, tune in at the beginning of 2011 for more non-holiday eco-tips.)
This week: Holiday Decor
Soon, Thanksgiving will be upon us and we can break out the holiday decorating bins to deck the halls. But how to do this in an eco-friendly way?
First, reuse the same decorations year after year. There are people who choose a different theme each year for their tree, which means new ornaments, ribbons, etc. to purchase. Not only does this get expensive, but you need more space to store all of these decorations. However, more people seem to have traditions of using the same ornaments for sentimental value and to pass on to their children. We still use ornaments I had growing up and the kids get a kick out of it (since it's hard for them to imagine their parents were EVER little kids).
I was given a handmade artificial wreath several years ago that I use every year. It's decorated beautifully and it saves me from having to get a real one to keep alive. I can barely keep a potted plant alive so having to maintain a real wreath makes me anxious. The same goes for garland. I use the artificial kind only because it's easier to maintain and have gotten many years out of them.
Second, the Christmas tree. Artificial vs. real:
Artificial trees are bad for the environment because of the chemicals used to produce them as well as the toxins they release in the air. They also use fuel to transport these trees to the stores, usually made in China. If you have an artificial tree you want to get rid of, please donate it or freecycle it instead of throwing it away since they are not biodegradable and will last forever in the landfill.
Real trees, on the other hand, are grown on local tree farms (renewable resource), specifically to get cut down every November/December and are replanted every year so there is no detriment to the environment. They add oxygen to the atmosphere and are biodegradable. There are gadgets to keep the trees watered, so it makes it simple and easy for me to keep it alive for the month it's up in the house. And then when the holidays are over, you can leave it on your curb which they will turn into mulch to reuse in the environment.
LED lights last longer than traditional incandescent string lights and they use less energy. They don't get as hot either, which means less risk of fire. This weekend at Home Depot, they are offering a $3 coupon for new LED lights for every string light you bring to recycle there, broken or not. (The offers ends today, Sunday, so take advantage of this great deal.) Make sure you put your lights on a timer, or at least remember to turn them out at a certain time at night. Keeping the lights on all night wastes energy and makes your bills higher.
Lastly, homemade decor:
Consider making your own holiday decorations. You can use pine cones that you find outside and can put them in a nice bowl either spray-painted festive colors, or just leave plain and add branches from evergreens. Make your own wreath and garland, if you have a green thumb. Have your kids make some decorations to help spruce up the home during the holidays. (Remember, glitter and snowflakes are easy & add extra sparkle.) Homemade ornaments are also fun and much cheaper to make than buy. Plus, you'll make memories your family will cherish for years to come.
Check out this link to Family Fun's ideas for homemade crafts for kids. http://familyfun.go.com/christmas/
And this one for homemade ornaments:
Hope all of this information will get you started to having a wonderful and green holiday. And check out my eco-mami facebook page to get 25 days of Christmas eco-tips starting in December. Enjoy!