8 Tips for a Green Christmas

Written by Clara Moskowitz

While Christmas is sometimes white, it generally isn’t green. All that one-time-use wrapping paper and packaging, fuel spent traveling and shipping presents, and energy used to light up trees and houses means the holiday season takes a toll on the environment.

While red metallic wrapping paper looks festive, it\'s often not recyclable. Credit: Dreamstime

(While red metallic wrapping paper looks festive, it’s often not recyclable. Credit: Dreamstime)

In fact, Americans produce about 1 million extra tons of trash around the holidays, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which reported that the volume of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Yearโ€™s Day rises by 25 percent above normal.

So to take pity on Mother Nature while celebrating Father Christmas, here are some tips:

Recycle wrapping paper โ€” or better yet, forgo it altogether. Try making your own wrapping paper and trimmings from newspapers, paper bags, art projects, clothes, dish towels, etc. And if you do buy new wrapping paper, go for the kind without glossy metallic coating, which makes it harder to recycle.

Stay home. Much of the worst impact to the environment comes from all the carbon dioxide emitted by the transportation we use to get around during the holidays. Consider limiting your plane travel (the worst offender) and long car rides. If you must drive, carpool, and try to schedule around traffic, to reduce the amount of time you idle and waste fuel.

Lower the thermostat. If you’re cooking and having company over, chances are you can get away with lowering the heat in your house, because the body warmth and heat from the oven should help compensate.

Lose the lights. Think about cutting back on excessive house and yard lights โ€” is it really necessary to see your glow-in-the-dark inflatable Santa from the next town over? And if you are decorating with lights, try switching to the LED variety, which can use 90 percent less energy than regular holiday lights.

Buy in bulk. Instead of purchasing cans of soda, small bags of chips, and serving-size baking supplies, stock up on bulk goods to reduce packaging waste.

Use real dishes. While disposable plates and silverware are easier if you’re hosting crowds, the environment will thank you if you buck up and do the dishes.

Serve less meat. Chicken, pork, and, especially, beef, take a heavier toll on the environment than veggies. Cows, in particular, produce copious amounts of methane, which is even worse for global warming than carbon dioxide. So instead of serving the turkey, the ham and the pot roast side-by-side, consider replacing some of the meat on your menu with tofu or veggies.

Use a real tree โ€“ and then recycle it when it’s done! Though it may feel sad to cut down a tree for the holidays, consider that most Christmas trees are grown expressly for the purpose (so you’re not contributing to deforestation), and can be planted or composted when you’re done with them. Plastic trees, in contrast, require petroleum to make, and then can’t be recycled easily when you’re through with them.

20 thoughts on “8 Tips for a Green Christmas

  1. Radical

    Aw, holy crap. 8 ways to f*ck up Christmas… ๐Ÿ˜›

    Haven’t these people heard of climate gate? Look it up if you don’t know about it.
    It is now official that global warming is a hoax.

  2. jena

    radical, you sound like my old boss — a real idiot!

    why dont we just live easier lives and not fuck up the earth to begin with, regardless of global warming

  3. LeeAnn

    The suggestion “stay home” is ridiculous. Not many family members wind up in the same geographic area. Telling people to skip on visiting loved ones is Grinchy, not green.
    I find lists like this just too self-righteous and enviro-preachy to take seriously. Life is short and aggravating enough without being scolded constantly for living.

  4. Your Name Here

    Think of how many tons of CO2 that could be prevented form entering the atmosphere if every global-warmist moved to say, Somalia, and lowered their standard of living to the people there! The effect of man-made emissions have a microscopic impact on global temperatures. Statistical anomalies dwarf C02’s effect. I have one test to give to any global warming believer: Explain the Medieval Warm Period including what caused it. Of coarse they can’t do that, but they claim to be able to project global temperatures 100 years into the future!

  5. RuhRoh Gorefibbed

    I nominate the hackers/leakers/honest scientists that finally told the world the truth, for persons of the century. We owe them our eternal gratitude for unleashing the real agenda of global warming= money. Man has always been greedy and educated men are really talented at inventing good ways to screw his fellow taxpayer.

    I can only hope that we can clean up our act without brainwashing a generation of children in the process. The truth shall set us free.

    Go away Algore and let our scientists do their best work with the real data sets and integrity.

  6. mallory

    I’ve got a great + super simple tip. The next time you’re purchasing a gift card– go for the electronic (and paperless) option, an eGift card. Each year, 75 millions lbs of PVC is dumped into landfills from plastic gift card waste (Plenty Magazine). That’s an astronomical amount of waste for something that can easily and conveniently be sent virtually. PVC is notoriously difficult to recycle and cannot be tossed into the recycling bin along side your other household items. You must send those pesky plastic cards to a PVC recycling plant, the only one I know of is EarthWorks. For a directory of retailers that offer an eGift card, try http://www.giftzip.com …it is the most extensive one I have found to date. Hope that helped. ๐Ÿ™‚

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