Each year, I ponder what I can do to make my holidays a little bit more sustainable. There are some concessions I’m willing to make, some I’ll make when the time comes, and others I haven’t made and don’t know whether I will make. So here are my personal choices–and I make no judgments about the rest of you and yours (except for those of you that went out and used assault weapons on Black Friday!)
In our house, we still put up two trees, one live and one artificial. The artificial on was purchased years before I arrived at the house so no petroleum products were used on my watch in its creation or shipping. If it were up to me, I would prefer the live only–but it’s not just up to me.
In case you haven’t followed the discussions, it’s generally considered more ecologically correct to go “live” with a tree–unless of course you can’t for health reasons. Every year when I bring mine in it does trigger mild allergies, but nothing severe enough to keep me from doing it.
The reason “fresh-cut” is preferred is because for every tree cut down, at least one or more is planted to replace it, thus helping with the cycle of carbon sequestration. In addition, fresh-cut trees are often recycled into mulch, as ours is. Artificial trees cannot be recycled.
Next comes the whole “paper” issue. One of the ways I’ve solved a lot of it is by not buying any new Christmas cards. I am often “gifted” with Christmas cards because of the organizations to which I belong. For a modest donation, I will receive more cards than I can use in a given year–perhaps in my lifetime at this point.
Any that I don’t want or need I can pass along to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children (fronts only, which saves on mailing costs). They recycle them into new holiday cards. This is also a great way to recycle the cards you receive at the holidays. Their mailing address is Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005.
The more eco-friendly thing to do would be to send e-cards but many of my recipients don’t have email (hard to believe in this day and age but there we are). Besides, I do think that on occasion there is something nice about the handwritten word–and someone has to help keep the postal service in business. So long as my recipients are at least recycling their envelopes, something good is coming of it.
Wrapping paper is another thing I haven’t bought in years. Again, I am often gifted with some. And we have just cut down on the number of gifts that are exchanged in our small family as well so that they need for paper is unnecessary as well. I may not ever get my husband to give us his love for the shiny stuff, but what little of it we do use we are able to recycle through our town recycling program–so that is at least a blessing. And I do save bows to re-use from year to year.
I will buy one or two other fresh-cut green-type items to display around our home but I don’t generally feel too badly about doing that. Every year I buy a kissing ball in late December that hangs in our crab apple until March–you’ll see it next week. For whatever reason, the birds seem to enjoy it there–I’m not sure if it provides cover for them or what. But that’s why I don’t mind that extravagance (never mind that I like looking at it)
And I’ll usually get a swag to adorn my garage-sale salvaged sled as well. Once the holidays are over, I can easily dismantle it for compost.
So those are my attempts to live a little less commercially at the holidays. There is certainly more I could do and certainly more I might do differently if my husband didn’t like things a certain way. But heck, it’s the holidays–I need to keep the joy in it for everyone.