21 December 2010

Celebrating the Holidays without hurting Mother Earth

This holiday season has been the hardest time of the year for me to make environmentally conscious decisions on how to celebrate the traditional way without taking a toll on Mother Earth.

Beside the fact that many people are using their cars to attend Christmas parties, family gatherings, winter vacation, the most harmful action towards our planet during this season: Christmas shopping. And some statistics about Christmas packaging... Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year.

But I digress a bit here... and focus on the green holiday symbol: the Christmas tree.

Christmas tree decorating is one of my most favorite things to do during the holidays, but this year, it was an challenge. After feeling guilty about discarding my artificial Christmas tree I bought a year ago from Target (there was not enough room in the moving truck), I did not have a Christmas tree last year.
But with a new home, I didn't want to go another year without a tree.
Should I buy another plastic one that I can use for (hopefully more than) 10+ years or should I buy a cut-down tree that would be recycled after the garbage truck picks it up off my curb? An wonderful eco-friend suggested neither. "Why not buy a real live tree in a pot and then plant in your backyard? Home Depot carries those kind of trees nowadays" she said.

So I went to Home Depot. I saw the $45 dollar artificial pre-lit trees, the $25 dollar fresh cut trees, or the $19.99 baby Leyland cypress tree that "sort-of -looked-like-a-Charlie-Brown-Christmas-tree-in-a-pot" tree.
After 30 minutes of debating, I decided to get the Christmas tree that would tread less on the environment during the holidays... so, it was the Charlie Brown tree. As I drove home, I looked at it in the rear view mirror and found myself already starting to feel intimate with this 3-feet tall plant in my backseat. It was not going to end up in some dusty attic or be shredded, recycled, and replanted, instead...it would find a home in my new garden. Another bonus: I can always decorate it anytime of the year.

Speaking of decorations... last weekend, I was invited to an ornament-making party. It was lovely to see everyone come together to share hand-made ornaments that they created. Many made theirs from the ornament making kits sold in Hobby Lobby or Michaels, or bought from a crafts fair... I decided not to purchase anything from the art store. Instead, I went to my art box and created a star-wreath out of old discarded business/credit/gift/debit cards. Decorated the middle with old hearing-aid batteries and hung it using the elastic strings that most clothes tags come in.
To my luck, I won the best Ornament prize that night for my recycled ornament. Hopefully more and more people will realize that recycled stuff does look awesome on your trees.

So, I've shared with you all my "eco-adventures". Have you done any? If so, please do share!

For those who are just learning to be eco... I decided to add some simple n' green holiday tips:

1. Only buy what you need. 2. Seek out handmade gift options and opt for “like new” items. 3. Carry reusable shopping bags (and use them). 4. Bundle your trips into fewer outings. 5. Resist the urge to “shop around”, instead...shop online. 6. Buy local.


  1. I liked your Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree approach!

    Your holiday tips are great! Another tip in mind, I think creating the Christmas shopping list in September saves a lot of time and hassles. It allows one to plan their shopping destinations without getting caught up with shopping around aimlessly. It also allows one to budget their shopping expenses and to look for sales over the upcoming months without splurging so many dollars in the last minute. A few people I know do most of their Christmas shopping during the summer to avoid the crowd!

    Happy Holidays and new year!

  2. Lovely idea! I also have a potted plant which I use as a Christmas tree year after year. As for ornaments, I use the ones that I inherited from my parents. That way I am not buying new things. As for gifts, I scour yard sales etc. I'm thankful that I have understanding family members who do not expect brand new thhings from me for cmas gifts. I also expect the same for my gifts although it took a while to "train" them :)

  3. What a wonderful and inspiring post! You have such a good friend! ;) Hee hee. I LOVED your ornament idea. I can't believe how many cards you've saved all those years. Gosh. Will save mine from now and on for you (or for my future ornament to go on my future tree in a pot).