Have yourself a Green little Christmas
"A good conscience is a continual Christmas."
Christmas is a time of celebration and fun, with traditions of celebration stretching back to winter solstice festivals. With the rise of Christianity, Christmas, which literally means "Christ's Mass" was also celebrated at this time, as no actual date for the birth of Christ is known. However it is a fact, that these days, no matter your religious beliefs, Christmas and gift giving is celebrated all over the world at this time. The problem is, that this has led to excessive consumerism and dizzying levels of consumption which are unsustainable. So here are 10 simple ways to go green this Christmas.
1. Don't Send Christmas Cards
Christmas cards are made from trees, which are specifically planted for making paper and cardboard. Whole forests are used for this purpose and while trees are a renewable resource, the consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years. The process of producing paper from trees, is also resource intensive and involves the release of bleaching pollutants into the ecosystem. Instead why not send emails and e-cards, so that come Boxing Day you won't be throwing away a whole stack of cards. (recycling still uses up the resources). There are also lots of great e-cards available on-line for free.
2. Give Vintage Gifts
Instead of buying your gifts from huge shopping centers, full of factory produced plastic products from developing countries, why not source unique presents from thrift shops and garage sales. You can find something really special and unique by shopping this way and not to mention save money.
The best Christmas present that I remember however, was when I was a young, about 10 years old and my cat gave birth to kittens on Christmas morning. All the store-bought Christmas presents were forgotten by me, my siblings and cousins, which just goes to show that there are greater gifts than things you can buy with money.
3. Make Your Own Decorations
If you have children, what a wonderful way to get them into the spirit of Christmas by making their own decorations. Using recycled items is also a good idea, which saves more rubbish going into the landfill and also increases your child's creativity.
Beautiful bespoke ornaments, can also be made as special gifts, or as decorations for your Christmas tree. There are thousands of cute and interesting ideas online, so why not have a go and create something special?
4. Use Local Produce
When it is time to buy the ingredients for your Christmas feast, buy only what you will use and buy locally. Try visiting your local farmers markets, for vegetables, gourmet goodies and herbs. You will generally be very surprised and excited, by what sought of foods you can buy in your local area, when you do a bit of investigation, and the goods don't need to be hauled from one end of the world to the other. And not only are you supporting your local farmers/producers, you are also doing your bit for your local economy.
5. Recycle Wrapping Paper
When you receive a gift, always save and reuse any paper, gift bags, ribbon and bows. Be upfront to friends and family about your intentions and explain that you are trying to minimise needless waste of resources and products. Be firm and proud that you care about the earth and the people who depend upon it. Those who are thoughtful and like-minded will see the wisdom and the beauty in what you are trying to do, and those who don't, are not worth worrying about.
6. Green Partying
If you are planning any pre-Christmas celebrations, or are hosting the Christmas occasion itself, email your invitations or use Facebook, so as to avoid wasting paper. At your home use recycling bins for bottles and paper, and make sure guests use them. If you live in parts of the world that are cold, try to minimise heating needs by using thick curtains and keeping doors closed. Those people who live in Australia, can simply hold an outdoor BBQ and make use of the natural light and warmth of the sun.
7.Use A Real Potted Christmas Tree
Cutting down live trees every year for Christmas and throwing them away afterwards, is decadent. Fake trees made of plastic in developing countries, cause lots of pollution in their manufacture and when you are finished with them they don't biodegrade. Instead buy a potted fir-tree, which can live happily in your garden (or balcony) during the year and be rolled out at Christmas. Real trees can clean your inside air too!
8. Make A Rule to only Spend $5-10
Make a family agreement and only spend a small amount of money on gifts. These gifts can also be from ethical companies, who raise money for important environmental projects. Budding cooks may choose to cook cakes, or traditional biscuits as gifts, and packaging them in reusable, useful containers. This gift giving project inspires innovation, as well as being green.
9. Minimise Christmas Lights
Don't put up all those gaudy Christmas lights this years, instead look for solar-powered outdoor decorations, that can be used in the coming years also. If solar is not practical and the kids really want lights, then settle for LED lights which can use up to 90% less energy -they look good too!
10. Start a Compost Heap
Even with the best intentions, Christmas creates masses of garbage, so why not start a compost heap if you have a garden. If you live in an apartment, you could investigate ways that a communal compost heap could be created for your whole complex. Throw in all your left over paper and food scraps and later throw the lot onto the garden, to improve your soil quality and add extra nutrients.
And don't forget to have a Merry green Christmas!
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