How to Green your Holiday and Lower your Footprint
If you're looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint this holiday season, consider these tips from Director of Sustainability Dedee DeLongpré Johnston of Wake Forest University:
Gift-wrap. Consider saving and reusing holiday wrapping paper or wrap your gifts in fabric that can be used for other purposes. "In my family, we re-gift gift bags again and again," DeLongpré Johnston says.
Lighting. Decorative LED lights are available in various holiday shapes and colors. In addition to having a much longer lifespan than standard lights, LEDs also reduce fire risks because they stay cool to the touch. "This would be one of the areas where you might spend a little more upfront, but save in the long run." Want to be even greener? Use light-sensor timers to turn your lights on and off.
Consumable gifts. Consider giving the gift of services instead, or goods that can be consumed. Some ideas include massages, pedicures, tickets to sporting events, or gift certificates for restaurants. Other options would be to give consumable gifts that keep on giving all year long like a membership to a Wine of the Month Club or a monthly delivery of seasonal fruits grown locally. Says DeLongpré Johnston: "It doesn't mean you have to be any less generous."
Make a donation in someone's name. Whether you donate a flock of chicks to support a hungry family through Heifer International or fund the planting of trees through American Forest, you will be giving a gift that gives back and helps preserve the environment at the same time.
Give the gift of time. Schedule time with friends and family for cookie exchanges or other holiday events. "We do have the ability as individuals and families to bring whatever intention to this season that we want," DeLongpré Johnston says. "So we can share meals and share time with one another, and if we'd like to give each other gifts, we can do that, too."
Treecyle. If you have a cut tree, check with your local municipality to find out when they will pick it up for recycling. Fortunately, you'll be in good company. More than 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year, but more than 90 percent are being recycled for mulch or chipped and used in parks and other public spaces.