I have to admit, I haven't yet gotten into the holiday spirit...um, whatever that is. As I ready myself for my own company holiday party, the most spirit I can muster is slipping into a green vintage velvet gown and applying enough cover-up to mask my decidedly red nose brought on a winter cold. Okay, that and I'm Jewish. But that's never stopped me from getting down with my gentile brothers and sisters for some yuletide merriment. Besides, I love eggnog. Alas, much to my agnostic husband's chagrin, we don't have a Christmas tree, nor string Christmas lights at our own home for the simple reason that it's, well, not very Jewish. Of course I know lots of Jews who go with the festive flow without giving a second thought to abandoning their religious roots. I've just never been able to cross that line (or face mom's wrath.) As if Jewish guilt isn't enough, truth be told, all this hoopla is anything but green. Think of the waste and blatant gross consumption that has become Christmas? Holy landfill!
So when I was asked to blog about a "Green Christmas" I contemplated suggesting that Hanukah is really the ultimate green holiday - what with the lighting of the candles (conserves energy), dradle spinning (human powered, producing zero CO2 emissions) and who could forget the holiday-inspiring biblical tale about a pinch of oil that miraculously lasted eight days (obviously a precursor to today's Prius technology.) Wait a minute - since my cars all run on biodiesel, maybe I can fuel them with used latke grease? Now I'm feeling the holiday spirit!
But I digress. Aside from converting to Judaism, there are all kinds of things Christmas revelers can do to green up their holidays. At the risk of sounding bah-humbug, simply embrace the three "Rs" and you'll be on your way to celebrating a more eco-Christmas: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
If you've just crawled out from under a rock and didn't get the e-blast, you can now recycle your Christmas trees. Almost every city has a designated Christmas tree recycling program. No need to kick the conifer to the curb next to the trash bins...that's so white trash. Better still, take a tip from the good folks in Iowa and recycle your own tree.
With more than 30 million mature Christmas trees that will be harvested and sold in the U.S. this season, you can help reforest by buying a renewable Christmas tree in a pot and replanting it after the holidays. Or you can buy an organic Christmas tree to reduce pesticide use, and then chip it into mulch for use in the garden. Jeeze, I feel like the ghost of Martha past!
Packaging & Wrapping Paper:
While it is indeed the season for retail sales, less truly can be more. Reduced packaging means you can get to the goods faster and help reduce excess landfill waste. So choose gifts with either minimal if any packaging at all or incorporate recycled packaging. Other ways to reduce waste is by using post-consumer recycled wrapping paper, reusing old wrapping paper, or doing away with wrapping paper altogether by packaging your gifts in reusable canvas shopping bags - it's kind of like getting two gifts in one.
And what about all those Christmas lights sucking up precious wattage during the holidays? Try energy efficient LED or solar powered Christmas lights now available at Home Depot or online. I even found rechargeable LED votive candles for the super chic eco-geek in the house at www.x-tremegeek.com
Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but make sure they're conflict free and/or use recycled metal content or For the epitome in eco-bling, check out cultured diamonds that are bio-mimicked in above ground labs. And if haute ice isn't your thing, then warm the cockles of coolest hearts while saving energy, petroleum and packaging with these gift ideas:
* Plant a tree in someone's name www.treepeople.org
* Gracefully point out any eco-transgressions by buying carbon offset credits for friends and family with super-sized carbon footprints www.NativeEnergy.com
* Less is more particularly when it's unsolicited. Put the kibosh on junk mail with a membership to www.greendimes.com
* Make a tax-deductible donation on behalf of a friend or loved one to the charity of your choice through www.networkforgood.org
* Nuf said, check out www.greenyule.com
Did I say three Rs? Make that four - Rejoice! There's no need to dampen the joys of Christmas because giving, getting and greening go hand in hand.