Dreaming of a Green Christmas- Beware of the Tree!

Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips

By Nature Canada staff

VANCOUVER,BC (RushPRnews)11/28/08-There may be snow on the ground but you can still have a green Christmas with the help of these eco-friendly holiday tips: Looking for a Christmas tree? Get real! Many artificial trees contain contaminants and all are made from petroleum products. Fake trees also travel long distances to reach your local store, which means each one leaves a hefty carbon footprint.

A real tree is a better alternative, but often even real trees come from a significant distance, creating a bigger carbon footprint than the ecologically minded person would like. You can try to buy from a local tree farmer, but there is a third option, one that is becoming more and more popular every year: live Christmas trees.

Like fresh cut real trees, live Christmas trees help remove carbon from the environment and provide a home and food for wildlife while they are growing. Better yet, they end up right back on the job when they are replanted after the holidays. So while live trees may not be the cheapest alternative, they are by far the best ecologically.

Imagine continuing to enjoy the beauty of a Christmas tree all year round. Think of the wildlife that might visit to nest or feed every year!

If planting a tree at home is not an option, donating it to a watershed management or conservation group is another way of helping the environment. You’ll find groups with tree-planting programs in most communities, but be sure to look into this before buying. There may be specific types of trees that can or can’t be used in the area.

Finally, consider renting a live Christmas tree. This way all the benefits of a living tree are there without the hassle of caring for it throughout the rest of the year. Some of the companies that sell real fresh cut and live Christmas trees also provide the option of renting rather than purchasing.

Bright Ideas for Christmas Lights

Those beautiful Christmas lights can have you seeing red when January’s bill arrives. Lighting already accounts for roughly 15% of your household electricity use; try lightening your carbon footprint instead of your wallet:

• Limit your Christmas light displays to an hour or two in the evening, and always turn them off before you go to bed. Use a timer if you need to.

• Use energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights for your house, or try solar powered Christmas rope lights for some winter sparkle without adding to your carbon footprint.

• 15% of household electricity is wasted by leaving TVs, stereos and other appliances on standby so make sure you turn things off when you’re not using them.

Greeting Cards with a Message

Billions of Christmas cards are sent each year, the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of trees. This year, send Christmas cards made of recycled material, or send e-cards instead. After the big day, make sure your Christmas cards don’t go to waste – always recycle them.

Deck the Halls with Real Holly!

Instead of spending money on artificial Christmas decorations that won’t biodegrade, let nature decorate your home. House decorations can be made from organic, recycled and scrap materials.

Try popcorn, dough, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, holly, seasonal berries, ivy and evergreen branches – once you have finished with them, you can put them in the compost.

Snuff Out Old Candles

Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residues, doing little good for your health or the environment. Soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based candles are better because they biodegrade, are smoke-free, and so much more eco friendly.

Get Creative with Wrapping Paper

Unwrapping a gift is half the fun, but there are plenty of creative alternatives to traditional wrapping paper:

• Hemp blend paper using 90% recycled post-consumer waste fibers and printed with 100% vegetable inks.
• Colour comic strips from the newspaper
• Wallpaper
• Last year’s calendars
• Old maps
• Last year’s wrapping paper
• Children’s art

Once you’ve wrapped a gift, tie it with ribbon or string instead of using scotch tape. Or you can forget the wrapping altogether and try re-usable gift bags instead!

Use Rechargeable Batteries
Families can go through a lot of batteries at Christmas. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, don’t biodegrade and are difficult to recycle.

Instead use rechargeable ones or try new AA size USB rechargeable batteries. By opening the cap and plugging into a USB connector, you can recharge them pretty much anywhere there’s a USB socket. You’ll never have to search for a charger again.
Shop Local, Go Organic
This year, try to buy your turkey and other holiday food locally. Shopping at farmers markets or buying direct from the farmer is often cheaper than buying in the supermarket. And buying organically grown food is even better. Think of the benefits – the taste of chemical-free food, the reduction in food miles and CO2 emissions, and reduced dependence on oil. Buying locally produced food also boosts rural jobs.

Recycle Unwanted Presents
It happens. Everyone receives at least one unwanted gift at Christmas. Recycle unwanted presents to charities, local hospitals and hospices.

Give to a Charity That Works to Protect Nature
Support Nature Canada or another environmental organization this Christmas. There are many to choose from; find one that focuses on issues that are important to you and help their cause. It’s a gift that will make a difference all year.

Source: Nature Canada

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