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By Lia Blanchard

Many of us have adopted a “go green” lifestyle, but during the holidays the average American puts out 52% more waste than usual. It’s easy to slip into old habits or traditional ways of doing things.  This series of articles offers greener methods of holiday decorating, giving, and entertaining.

Decorating

Christmas tree: There are many greener ways to enjoy a Christmas tree than chopping one down and throwing it away every year.

  • Purchase a living tree. Many potted trees can live in their pots for many years, serving you for multiple Christmases before being permanently planted. If you have nowhere to plant a live tree, you might donate it to your local parks department, senior home, or other nonprofit facility with landscaped grounds. Or…
  • Rent a live tree. This done both commercially and by nonprofits who use the returned tree in their ecological projects. The Adopt a Stream Foundation in the Seattle area plants the trees for salmon habitats, and the Original Living Christmas Tree Company in Portland gives its trees to the local parks department for planting around the city.
  • Recycle your dead tree. If you do go with a chopped live tree, you can at the very least choose one grown by farm that employ green growing practices, then recycle your tree after the holiday. Many cities and nonprofit groups will pick up your de-decorated tree for composting. Nationally, the Boy Scouts are known for doing this every year – click here to find a Boy Scout troop near you to ask about their pickup schedule.
  • Purchase a fake tree. Without opening the real vs fake debate, we can say that using an artificial tree not only saves years’ worth of live trees and their pesticides, but also on the gas required to ship and shop for them. The problem is that they are not recyclable, but if you find one made in the USA, you are keeping shipping to a minimum and can be assured that the chances of contamination from lead or other toxins are greatly decreased. Christmas in America, LLC is one company whose trees are 100% American made.

Lights: LED lights are now available at most retail stores that sell Christmas decorations. Some may even offer discounts for Energy Star rated LEDs, and recycling programs for old-fashioned lights. LED or solar-powered lights can save you quite a bit on your holiday electric bill.

Wreaths, garland, ornaments: Tis the season to be crafty! Basic decorations can be made out of twisted fabric, especially t-shirts and jeans. Cranberries, nuts, and popcorn are traditional favorites for garland, and can be eaten (well, maybe not the popcorn), composted, or fed to the birds after the holidays. Buttons, old holiday cards, plastic bottle caps, and pine cones make great ornaments.

Next:  Enjoy a Greener Holiday: Giving

LED Christmas lights