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In Tough Times, Christmas Can Be Green and Fun

December 20, 2010 12:00 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Economic and environmental concerns have combined to generate more interest in having a green Christmas this year, and experts have plenty of sustainability advice.

Greening the Holidays

Re-plantable Christmas trees, recyclable gift wrap and charitable gifts are part of some Americans’ plans for a holiday that's mindful of the environment and recession. While a green holiday may sound difficult, it can be done. The trick is to keep things simple and easy.

The book “Green Christmas,” by Jennifer Basye Sander, Peter Sander and Anne Basye offers suggestions on eco-friendly decorating, gifts and shopping, and cooking and entertaining. Simple suggestions include preparing local foods, sending e-vites and using ornaments made from natural materials.

But being green this holiday season doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish, says designer Kelly Deck. In these tough times, Deck says it is crucial for style-conscious decorators to focus on classic, timeless pieces because “being trend-focused is not sustainable.” More specifically, Deck suggests “investing in handmade ornaments, things made locally.”

Environmental blog The Daily Green offers a gift guide to “the season’s best sustainable and nontoxic gifts,” including toys, home goods, clothing and outdoor gear.

What To Do With Your Christmas Trees

Bryan Walsh explains in Time that using natural trees is better for the environment and can encourage children to adopt a green lifestyle. Though the use of artificial trees can reduce carbon emissions by cutting down on the gasoline expended in bringing a tree from the forest to a home, using real trees is more environmentally beneficial in the long term.

Real trees are biodegradable and nearly all of the more than 30 million sold in the United States each year have been grown on commercial farms, making them renewable resources. When one is cut down, another is planted in its place, establishing a carbon-neutral process, says Walsh.

Buying a tree with the root-ball intact will allow you to replant it in the backyard when the season is through. But if you haven’t the time to keep a tree alive throughout the hectic holiday season, there’s always mulching.

The New York Times reported on New York's MulchFest, where Christmas “tree limbs, branches and trunks are ground into wood chips and turned into vegetation-friendly mulch” each year. Visit Earth911.com for mulching operators near you.

Reference: Green Living

The findingDulcinea Green Living Guide has advice on adopting or furthering a green lifestyle. Link to Web sites on going green, finding eco-friendly products and services, getting involved in environmental activism, and keeping informed of environmental news.

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