Dear Holiday Eco-Faeries,
I’ve been pretty good this year, especially over the last six months. I admit that I don’t use my reusable mug often enough, and I probably drive my car more than I should. But, I’m a compulsive recycler, and I’ve really tried to limit my general consumption — plus, I’ve convinced my boyfriend to turn off the surge protector when he’s done with the TV! With all that in mind, please consider the following gifts, to be bestowed upon me this holiday season:
1) More travel mugs. The biggest reason I don’t use my reusable coffee cup on any given morning is because it is dirty and I’m too lazy/late to wash it. If I had a bigger rotation, this would rarely be an issue.
2) A Prius.
3) A few tote bags from www.bringyourownbag.ca; I really like the brown one with the deer on it.
4) A piece of local art.
But the holidays aren’t all about receiving. I’ll be giving a lot this season too, and here are some ways I’m trying to green my gifts:
1) In as many cases as possible, I’m planning to go homemade and handmade, with crocheted scarves and potholders, and several tins of cookies.
2) Alternative wrapping paper isn’t limited to using the comics section of the newspaper. Empty jars and cans, cleaned out and dressed with fabric scraps or bits of yarn, are great gift containers for edible presents such as cookies or candy. Simple brown paper, wound with twine, is very old-fashioned and Sound-of-Music-esque (that’s a good thing). Or how about this — if I place the present into a pretty re-useable tote bag, that’s two gifts in one!
3) Cards and gift tags are simply better — and certainly cheaper — when they’re handmade. I’m cutting images from old cards and magazines to make holiday collages.
4) Living plants make greener — and longer lasting — hostess presents than cut flowers.
What to do about that controversial object under which some presents will sit? Some claim that fake-plastic Christmas trees are more eco-friendly than fresh ones, in that they are re-useable, and not cut from the ground. But the truth is that live Christmas trees are grown like crops, not cut down from wild forests, and when one is harvested, another is planted — to absorb carbon dioxide for the duration of its life cycle.
Not to mention that many fake Christmas trees are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-recyclable material that is the bane of environmentalists everywhere. According to Grist.org, “lead is apparently used to stabilize certain PVC products, which is why you’ll see a label on faux Christmas trees cautioning you to avoid inhaling or eating any bits of lead dust that may fall from the ‘branches.’”
So chop away — or better yet, get a young tree that you can either replant, or keep on your patio/porch for the other 11 months of the year (dwarf alpine spruces grow slowly and peak at about six feet, making them a realistic option for apartment dwellers). The even greener option is to not get a tree at all; check out www.ehow.com/how_6924_make-tiny-christmas.html for a tutorial on how to make a mini tree out of branch cuttings, Plaster of Paris, and a bamboo pole. I may try this.
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Deirdre Fulton: email@example.com