Instead of hoping for a white Christmas this year, keep it green. A few easy tips can make the holidays merrier for nature, too.
“Our community, economy and environment depend on us making sustainable choices every day. It is especially important this time of year when there is an increase in traveling, shopping, heating, eating and disposing. Here are some little things you can do to be green this holiday season, and together, we can make a big difference,” said Melody Kuschnereit, coordinator for Sustainable Whidbey Coalition.
• Consider a real tree, which can be recycled or better yet, a live tree that can be planted outside after the holidays. Indoor varieties are also available, which can liven up your home year round.
• Get creative with wrapping. Use twine around paper bag wrapping, with a pine cone and an evergreen twig for a festive, rustic “bow.” Put gifts in reusable containers, wrap them in fabric or use boxes, paper and bows saved from last season. Paper bags and newspaper comics also make for creative wrapping paper.
• Salts commonly used to de-ice sidewalks can be very harmful to plant and animal life. Look for safer de-icers made from calcium magnesium acetate, potassium chloride or calcium chloride.
• Consider shopping online, if you really can’t find everything on your list locally. To have 10 pounds of packages shipped by overnight air uses 40 percent less fuel than driving yourself round-trip to the mall, according to the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions.
• Adjusting the thermostat by just two degrees is the equivalent of losing 2,000 pounds of carbon emissions annually and almost $100 in energy costs.
• Household waste increases 25 percent each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Try to avoid gifts with excessive packaging, and consider gifts of experience.
• If the holidays bring you something new (clothes, electronics, etc.), consider donating old items instead of throwing them away. Donate to a local thrift store, or give it away on Drewslist, Craigslist, or Whidbey Freecycle, without even leaving your home.
• Holiday cards can be recycled with mixed paper. You can also save them and cut them to make small gift tags for next year.
• When entertaining, suggest carpooling options for your guests, not only to cut down on fuel consumption, but also to reduce the number of cars on the road.
Not sure what to get the final people on your list? Here are some alternatives to a department store gift card:
• A Shop Local Coupon Book. Call 321-1600 for details.
• A “Sound Waters, a one-day university for all” gift certificate, put on by WSU Extension Island County Beach Watchers. Visit www.beachwatchers.net/sw_gift for details.
• A donation to a local charity in their name.
More holiday “green bites” can be found at www.sustainablewhidbey.org/holiday-green-bites.
To share your holiday green tip, email Melody at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sustainable Whidbey Coalition is a network of leaders directly involved in fostering sustainability on Whidbey Island.
The coalition was formed in the fall of 2007 as a collaborative response to global climate change and local implications.
Find out more at www.sustainablewhidbey.org.