Have Yourself A Merry Green Christmas

During the season of celebration we need to show extra care for the environment.

Christmas does not have to be a burden on the environment. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season.

Here are some ideas to help celebrate the season while caring for the earth.

Buy Less

Some holiday gifts fill a practical need and need to be bought new. But many gifts are really gestures of thoughtfulness. You can give more while spending less.

• Not all gifts have to be store-bought. You can give more while spending less. you can give gifts that are personal and unique.

• Simplify the ‘gift-go-round’. Feeling overwhelmed by a gift list that’s just too long? Here’s an idea to help shorten your list and simplify the family gift-giving ritual:

Before the holiday season begins (Thanksgiving is a good time because the extended family is often together), put the names of all adult family members on separate slips of paper and put the slips in a hat. Take turns picking one name per adult – the name you pick is your gift recipient. Keep your chosen pick a secret, to help maintain an element of surprise.

Your gift list for the adults in your family has just been shortened to one! You can now focus on a special gift for the person whose name you picked, without the dificulty and expense of finding just the right gift for everyone.

If the family’s not together on Thanksgiving, ask Grandma or someone else in the family to pick the names from the hat for everyone, by proxy. It works just as well. An agreed on spending limit will also help everyone from feeling they have to go overboard with a fabulous gift for the person whose name they chose.

Buy Smart – think ‘green’

• look for locally made gifts – many gifts in today’s marketplace come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation.

• give ‘battery-free’ gifts – According to the EPA, about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually.

Lower the impact of holiday lighting

• Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays – A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive, and more appropriate in the ‘season of giving’.

• Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting – LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.

• Outdoor Mini-lights will also save energy. A 100-light string uses only 40 watts. If you’re buying a new set of lights, compare based on equal ‘lighted lengths’. Some higher priced brands have 100 mini-lights for only 8 1/2 feet of length, while some 100 mini-light strings cover up to 40 feet in length. For the most efficient outdoor holiday lighting, consider the new solar LED strings now available.

• Turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting at bedtime. It’s simply a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone’s gone to sleep.

Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

Half of the paper America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. (Source: The Recycler’s Handbook, 1990) In the US, the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals over 4 million tons. In Canada, the annual waste from gift wrap and shopping bags equals about 545,00 tons. If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.

• Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper made using fibers such as hemp. Look for paper using recycled content.

• Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper – this kind of material is difficult to recycle.

• Reuse gift wrap where possible – large wrapped presents usually have large enough uncreased sections to be reused for wrapping small gifts.

• Use tape sparingly, or not at all – if you’re going to use ribbon to finish off your wrapping, you may not need to use tape. By not using tape, more of the wrapping paper can be reclaimed, and it’s easier for the recipient to save the wrapping for reuse.

M. Germaine Parra
Realtor, Feng Shui Consultant
Licensed in DC, MD and VA
Long and Foster Realtors
6862 Elm Street Office, McLean, VA  22101
Office:703-873-3500
Fax:   703-873-1901
Cell:  703.650.8838
www.germaineparra.com

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