6 Tips for a Green Holiday Season

photo of house decorated in Christmas lightsThe holidays are all about spreading joy and cheer. What better way to celebrate the season than by reducing your impact on the environment. Being green this season is easy and a great way to shake up the holidays and spread warmth and delight. Follow these six tips to create a unique, green holiday season for you and your loved ones.

1. Real Versus Artificial Trees

There is nothing more festive than the sharp, spicy scent of a real Christmas tree. Real trees are the preferred option among environmental experts as long as the tree is obtained from a sustainable tree farm and the purchaser does not have to drive a great distance. It is far easier to safely dispose of real cut trees after the holidays. Simply donate them to a tree-recycling center, chip them up for mulch or leave them whole for a wildlife habitat in your backyard. Many people have chosen to purchase live potted trees. This is by far the most environmentally friendly option. After the holidays, live trees can be planted or repotted into a larger container for reuse the next year.

If you are unable or unwilling to acquire a real tree, artificial trees can work too. There are several environmental benefits to using an artificial Christmas tree. Artificial trees ensure that fir forests remain intact and are generally used for several seasons, which means that families will be using less gas driving to buy Christmas trees. The downside of an artificial tree is the manufacturing process produces toxic chemicals, and once the tree is disposed of, it takes hundreds of years to break down in a landfill while it leeches toxic substances into the environment.

2. LED Lights

Huge parts of holiday decorating are the beautiful, twinkly lights that are strung up by the millions during the Christmas season. Trade in your old heat producing incandescent lights for new environmentally friendly LED lights. Not only are these lights safer, they use far less energy and last much longer. The US Department of Energy estimates that if homeowners switched to LED lights for the holidays, the energy savings would provide enough power to service 200,000 homes for an entire year.

3. Thoughtful Gifts

symbol for Fair TradeBrowsing through stores during the holidays sometimes feels like déjà vu all over again. You constantly see the same mass-produced items in multiple stores. Prove to your friends how thoughtful you are this holiday season by purchasing unique, handcrafted gifts. Many areas have craft shows where local artisans sell their wares for the holidays. You can also buy one of a kind gifts online from the comfort of your own home. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit organization that sells beautifully crafted handmade items from artists living in impoverished areas around the world. Not only are you helping an artist feed their family, you are doing a good thing for the environment.

4. Cook With Local Ingredients

When it comes time for you to cater your holiday parties, choose dishes that incorporate local, seasonal ingredients. This eliminates the carbon emissions from large trucks and boats that ship ingredients from far away locations, and you usually end up getting products with far fewer pesticides.

5. Old-Fashioned Gifts

When you go to buy gifts for the children in your life, consider skipping the flashy electronics in favor of old-fashioned toys. Many electronics are quickly broken and discarded by children. Wooden toys, puzzles and building games are long lasting, entertaining and lack the batteries that cause so much harmful damage when they are improperly tossed in the garbage.

6. Creative Wrapping

photo of a Christmas present wrapped in craft paperNot only does making your own wrapping paper recycle items that might otherwise end up in a landfill, it makes your gift stand out as beautiful and unique. Use old newspapers, magazines, paper bags or fabric scraps to sustainably wrap your gifts. Accessorize with ribbon, twine, twigs, pinecones, holly or buttons.

Even small actions by an individual have a huge environmental impact. If you would like to find out more about sustainable living, visit the Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) website. Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) believes in improving the environment through LEED Exam Prep training, LEED green building consulting, and energy efficiency.