How to "Green" a Holiday

Holiday decorating is one of the favorite traditions of families the world over. Some families begin their holiday decorating as soon as the summer nights cool off, while others may wait until just a few days before their particular holiday festival begins. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate or when you begin to decorate, “green” holiday decorating is a fun and creative way to involve your entire family, or even neighborhood, in the holiday decorating spirit with less impact on the environment.

Holiday lighting has improved drastically in the past few years in terms of the energy required to display those blinking, rotating or simply elegant lights on your porch, outdoor foliage or inside decorations. Standard strings of lights that require copious amounts of electricity to run are quickly being replaced by the much more energy-efficient strings of LED lights. Plus, LED lights produce better colors than standard, incandescent lights, giving your holiday décor a smashing boost to its delightful display. LED lights use only about 1 to 3 kilowatt hours of energy, compared with 12 to 105 kWh for the incandescent lights, saving energy and money. Since LED lights are made from plastic instead of glass, they are also more durable than incandescent lighting and can last twice as long.

Some holiday decorations may be recycled from the years prior, swapped with neighbors or found at thrift, resale of second-hand stores, helping to eliminate the “need” for more holiday decorations to be produced in the years to come. Other holiday decorations, including artificial trees or other winter foliage, are produced with large amounts of petroleum. Interior designers rarely, if ever, use the artificial decorations found in many homes, opting instead for a natural look that has the added benefit of seasonal pine scents and a classic image. “Greening” up these decorations takes a natural, outdoor approach and since there is little to no environmental impact in the use of natural trees or greenery, you can rest assured that your naturally decorated home is not harming the earth. Plus, the natural decorations can be turned into mulch for your yard or garden.

When it comes to the presents for family, friends, teachers or other gift recipients, the last thing a “green” holiday needs is pre-printed paper coated in plastic and tied with petroleum-based ribbons or tape. An alternative to the standard gift wrap is a reusable grocery bag tied with a natural string and cinnamon sticks. You can also use items like buckets, planters or baskets as gift-wrap alternatives, giving a “gift in a gift” to the people on your list. For a low-budget alternative, or for those who enjoy the “paper tearing” portion of the holidays, it is perfectly acceptable to wrap presents in old newspaper decorated by you (or your kids).

Going “green” for the holidays does not mean that the fun and festivities of the season are taken out of the occasions. The end-of-year holidays are a time to relax and reconnect with family and friends, and by choosing to decorate your home in a more eco-friendly manner, you can celebrate the days and know that you are helping keep the earth healthy for many celebrations to come.

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