Have a Green Christmas

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Anonymous, Eng, Lynn and 1 other

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Christmas has always been about good tidings and bountiful blessings. However, through the years this message has become routinely expressed in terms of extravagant spending, excessive food and drink, and wasteful consumption. At the rate at which the planet is deteriorating, one can't help but advocate for an eco-friendly or green holiday season.

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Contrary to what most people think, an eco-friendly, green Christmas is not about scarcity or going without. Instead, it is about having a thoughtful and considerate celebration. It is about showing respect for the occasion and the sufferings of a multitude of people around the globe. It is about caring for things that truly matter. With a little effort, concern and imagination, you can have an environmentally-friendly Christmas that is doubly reminiscent of the real Christmas when Jesus was born in a manger.

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A Threefold Reason to Celebrate

The good news is, showing appreciation for the deeper meaning of Christmas does not mean condemning your family to a grim season. It is, after all, the season to be jolly, and a time to be joyful. There are many ways to combine the merrymaking, caring for the planet and thankfulness for the spiritual meaning of Christmas. Here are a few of the ways that we can do all three.

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Change those Christmas Lights

Christmas is a time when the whole neighborhood is lit up. At night, the world turns into a wonderland with houses and gardens outlined in colorful blinking lights. Most adults have memories of going around with their families to see enchanting displays of snowmen, reindeer, and nativity scenes all around the neighborhood.

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You can still continue with this practice if you want to. After all, there is something precious about friends and family enjoying the beautiful colors of Christmas together, and the warmth of flickering candles on Advent certainly does a lot to create the proper ambiance. This year, though, you can show your willingness to bring down energy consumption to a more eco-friendly level by shifting to LED lights, which can be purchased in most hardware stores today.

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Here are a few interesting things about LED lights:

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    LED (light-emitting diode) lights cause less than 20 percent of the CO2 emission of regular light bulbs.
    A 40-watt incandescent bulb turned on 10 hours a day will produce 196 pounds of CO2 emission per year while a 6 watt LED generating the same light will only cause 30 pounds of CO2 emission over the same span of time.
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    LED lights don't break or burn out, reducing the risk of fire in your home during the season; they last five times longer than compact fluorescent bulbs, and use only half as much electricity as CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) bulbs.
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    While CFLs contain mercury, LED lights don't.
    Moreover, they are not sensitive to extreme temperatures the way CFL bulbs are.
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What about the tree?

The Christmas tree is one of the most important traditions that surround Christmas. It is around the tree that gifts are laid, and around the tree that most families converge to talk, relax over coffee, or just sit in companionable silence. Many families have shifted to plastic trees out of practicality, and a desire to desist from cutting down a tree annually. Before you rush off to buy your own plastic tree, here are a few factors to consider:

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    Most artificial trees are made from metal and plastic.
    Typically, the plastic component of the tree contains polyvinyl chloride or PVC, which is non-recyclable. This means after an average of six years, the plastic tree will be dumped into a landfill somewhere.
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    Most artificial trees used in North America are manufactured in Asia, from where they are transported thousands of miles by boat.
    This means artificial trees actually have a greater carbon footprint, and this means they have a bigger impact climate change.
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On the other hand, while many people decry the practice of cutting trees for Christmas, here are a few relevant facts that may help you take a second look at this tradition:

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    In many places, the pines used for Christmas trees are actually farmed.
    They are typically replaced after harvesting, but while they are standing, they perform several useful functions: provide a natural habitat for animals, they produce oxygen, they fix carbon in their trunk and branches, as well as the soil.
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    A natural Christmas tree is biodegradable.
    There are places where you can bring the tree for recycling; the tree can be chipped for mulch, or reused in some other way.
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What is a possible alternative? You can try using a live tree for Christmas and plant it outside when the season is done. With gardening brought to the level of a fine science, you will be able to get all the help you need to grow a live Christmas tree and enjoy it year after year.

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Earth-Friendly Homemade Décor

If you are like most people, you probably add some new pieces of household Christmas décor every year. If you want to go green this Christmas, you can try making your own homemade décor with materials you can recycle from your home. You can use scraps of paper, old magazines, and a wide variety of things to create beautiful décor. Here are some decorating ideas for you to try.

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    Homemade wreaths.
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    Wreaths lend themselves well to the use of recycled materials. You can use the shells of nuts, bits of ribbon, old buttons, and other small items that can be put together creatively. You can also take apart old wreaths and revitalize them by rearranging them, or adding some new element.
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    Old fashioned popcorn garlands can stage a beautiful comeback in your home.
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    What's more, this is the type of décor that children can make. You can intertwine the popcorn with cranberry to have garlands in two colors, or alternate the popcorn with cranberry for red-and-white garlands.
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    Look for pictures in magazines and DIY websites for help in meeting the challenge of making something beautiful from what would have been cast aside as junk.
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    1. Go over old Christmas cards; these have great possibilities for recycling.
    2. From your yard, you can probably find pine cones, dried twigs and foliage to make centerpieces.
    3. With the proper inspiration, you will be able to put these things together beautifully.
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Try an Eco-Friendly Christmas Dinner

Everyone will probably tell you that a Christmas dinner is simply not complete without either ham or turkey. If you are having people over for dinner and all of them expect either ham or turkey, it would be difficult disappoint them and shift to a vegetarian Christmas menu. But, there are ways for you to gather your friends and family for a heartwarming meal without leaving the typically large carbon footprint.

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    If you are going to serve either turkey or ham, you can still minimize the toll of such dishes on the environment by buying those that are organic and produced by local farmers.
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    Buy local goods.
    By doing so, you will be doing your part to move away from goods that clock thousands of miles from the production area to you, and you will be encouraging local entrepreneurship. If farmers' markets are open in your area, try to get your ingredients from them.
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    Buy what is in season.
    This way you not only get the freshest produce, but you also get goods that did not go through the environmentally expensive process of high-tech preservation and refrigeration.
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    Don't cook too much food.
    Since you know how many people are coming, you will have a fairly good idea of how much food is needed. Prepare adequate rather than excessive portions.
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    If you must serve ham or turkey, so be it.
    But at least try to use the occasion to introduce more vegetable dishes to the celebration. Prepare at least one or two vegetarian side dishes, and encourage everyone to have a taste.
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    Have some clear glass containers or cardboard take-out boxes on hand.
    Pack up the leftovers and have your guests take them home. Visit cooking websites to find ways to cook what leftovers will remain with you.
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    As for your drinks, if you must serve soda, choose canned drinks; at least recycling the aluminum container takes 80 percent less energy than creating a new can.
    Buy shade-grown organic coffee (this does not require the forest to be cut), and offer organic herbal teas. The main point is to keep your carbon footprint as small as possible, while showing everyone that having a good time is not incompatible with having a green Christmas.
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Minimize Waste

The amount of waste generated on Christmas borders on the incredible, and not at all in keeping with the principle of peace on earth. One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in an eco-friendly way is to carefully monitor your own waste and to keep it at a minimum. Here are some ways to achieve that:

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    Do not overbuy food; it will just go to the trash bin.
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    Plan ways to use your leftovers instead of consigning them to the waste bin.
    If you can't eat the food, at least compost it.
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    Start bringing your own tote bag to the grocery to cut down on the use of plastic.
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    Buy loose rather than pre-packaged goods.
    Most pre-packaged goods use an excessive amount of material.
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Give Eco-Friendly Gifts

Try to modify your gift-giving by always going for the recycled, the local, and the organic.

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    Buy Christmas cards that are printed on recycled paper, and explore the world of e-cards and paperless greetings.
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    When possible, give plants or seedlings as gifts.
    A plant kit is a wonderful way to start people on a rewarding hobby. After they see their first kit blossom, chances are they will get hooked on growing things.
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    Be creative and find ways to use recycled material to wrap your gifts.
     
    1. Old shopping bags, old newspapers, and old magazines all offer great possibilities for eco-friendly wrapping.
    2. Imagine this: A white origami crane sitting on a box covered with the dark pages of a magazine.
    3. Isn't that both a pretty and eco-friendly way to wrap your gift?
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    Make a survey of green gifts to give friends and family.
    For a start, there are numerous digital magazine subscriptions available today; maybe you have friends who would appreciate that. Organic food, local crafts, organic fruit baskets are all good gifts to give on this special season.
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Recapture the Real Meaning of Christmas

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Probably the most challenging and rewarding way to have a green Christmas is to find time to get together and reflect on what Christmas really means for you. individually and as a family. It is not at all unusual to find people who go into debt and give in to the pressure of consumerism during the season. Neither is it out of the ordinary to find both children and adults bitterly disappointed not to get the gifts they want for Christmas.

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Make this a truly special Christmas for you and your family by remembering that the best gifts in the world are not what you can buy in a store. Rather, good health, friendship, and family are the gifts that are precious beyond reckoning. Find time to do a project together, or to just sit around and admire your eco-friendly lights. Play games, watch a show, and use your creativity to fully savor a joyful and green Christmas.

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Article Info

Categories : Green Living

Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Anonymous

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