Loving family gatherings and joyful gift giving are two reasons this is the most wonderful time of the year. For the environment, however, Thanksgiving through New Year’s isn’t as merry. Stores are flooded with cheap disposable toys, decorations and extra holiday embellishments often made with questionable materials. According to a review by Stanford University, Americans produce 25% more waste during this time, equating to about 7 million pounds of trash. In addition, the energy bill for an average family home increases almost $60 per month due to festive displays. Here are four simple tips for a greener holiday season.
1. Energy Saving
Reduce energy usage by using fewer decorative lights and animatronic ornaments as well as swapping incandescent bulbs for LEDs. Switching to LED bulbs and string lights uses an average of 75% less energy, while lasting about 25 times longer than incandescent lights. In addition to using more energy efficient bulbs, turn lights off during the day, when you’re not home and when you go to bed.
2. Eco-Friendly Gifts
It’s tempting to buy the trendiest toys and stock up on cute discount store finds, but these can often contain a mix of potentially toxic chemicals such as phthalates, flame retardants, bisphenol A and even lead. Instead, create your own gifts by baking, drawing, building or sewing or purchase gifts made with sustainable materials and natural ingredients. Also, consider presenting your loved ones with a relaxing spa day experience at home. Giving more meaningful gifts free from dangerous additives but packed full of your affections is not only better for the environment but will be remembered by the recipient long after the holiday has ended.
3. Gift Wrapping
Leave the shiny sparkly wrapping paper on the store shelf because it’s likely not recyclable or biodegradable. Make your own gift wrap using brown paper bags, newspaper or magazines. Reusable items like festive dishtowels and fun scarves also make pretty and practical giftwrapping. If you’d still prefer to buy holiday wrapping, look for paper and ribbon made with recyclable material and/or that is biodegradable.
4. A Greener Christmas Tree
A beautiful evergreen is the center of holiday festivities in many homes, but these trees are treated with a variety of pesticides and chemical colorants. The good news: it’s easier than ever to find an organically grown tree. The easiest way to find an organic tree farm in your area is an internet search or try a website like Local Harvest.
Once the holidays have passed, did you know you could recycle your Christmas tree? Instead of sending your tree to a landfill this year, check out your area’s tree recycling programs. According to the National Christmas Tree Associationmany areas offer curbside recycling programs and local non-profits also recycle trees for various environmental projects.
Bonus Tip: Donate
Tis the season for giving, but many in our own communities struggle to meet basic needs. Donating time, clothing, gifts or other goods to a local food bank, women’s shelter or another charity close to your heart helps. Recycling usable goods keeps them out of landfills while helping someone in need. You can also head up a fundraiser or gift drive for the organization. Donating to a cause important to you helps make the season a little brighter.
During the months of November and December, Lemongrass Spa is focused on providing Human Kindness Kits to victims of trafficking, abuse or trauma. For every ten kits purchased, Lemongrass Spa home office will donate an additional kit. This special gift can change a life.
What are your eco-friendly tips to celebrate the season?
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