Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is it possible to have an eco-friendly holiday?

Last year at Christmas, I stood in the living room amid the swirling scraps of wrapping paper and heaps of ribbon and ripped-up boxes, and thought, "There has got to be a better way."

At The 36-Hour Day, I'm talking about how I'm hoping to be a little greener this year. Having five kids makes for a lot of post-Christmas detrius, even though it's true that as the kids get bigger, the gifts get smaller (and more expensive). And the economy has dictated that this Christmas is going to be a little leaner than Christmases past. But if I'm going to go for a more eco-friendly holiday, there are still several areas where I can make a change or two.

1.) I usually make homemade gift baskets for my friends and family members, and this year I'm upping the ante with a few new recipes. Let's see how they turn out.

2.) While I can hem a pant leg and reattach a button, my actual make-something-from-scratch sewing skills are nonexistant. But if you can sew in a straight line -- or if you have a sewing machine that can do it for you -- these great gift bags from Mary at Owlhaven make a perfect and eco-friendly wrapping alternative.

3.) I'm reducing the dinnertime angst during the week between Christmas and New Year's by making something simple -- like roast chicken -- and repurposing the leftovers.

4.) The folks at Reynolds sent me a sample of their 100 percent recycled aluminum foil to try right after Thanksgiving, and now I'm thinking that recycling my trash might not be enough. If I'm going to be buying something anyway, I might as well buy the recycled version of it. (Hey! The link goes to a coupon! More savings!)

5.) My husband quips that our fridge is full of "food that you eat with other food" (aka condiments), and I hate to admit it, but he's right (I make jam! Of course it's full of condiments!) . But I'm going to clean out my fridge, not just to reduce clutter, but to keep it running efficiently. (If you're looking at an overstocked freezer, though, let it be -- your refrigerator cools food by circulating air around it, so it requires more energy to keep a full fridge cold, while your freezer uses more energy if it's semi-empty.)

6.) The tree. That's a big one, and I'm not sure how to handle it. Is it greener to get a reuse-able pre-lit tree, or does the fact that it's made out of plastic make it automatically un-eco-friendly? Ironically, is it greener to get a formerly live tree instead? Does the amount of electricity used in running long strings of Christmas lights outside to wrap around an actual living tree cancel out the fact that the tree wasn't chopped down?

Are you trying to be more eco-friendly this holiday season? Please share your ideas with the rest of us!

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