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A Green Christmas

Eco-Friendly Holidays

The holidays are an especially high-waste time and Americans throw away more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year’s than at any other time of year.

You may be wondering what you can do to be more eco-friendly and there are many small ways that you can green your holidays.


Most of us have at least one reusable shopping bag somewhere. The hard part is remembering the bag when you are heading into the store.

One solution that works for me is a small bag that was given to me as gift. It rolls up and then goes into a small zipper pouch that I keep in my purse. It also has a clip that I use to attach to my belt loop when I bike somewhere and may need a bag. I have had my standard black bag for years and now they come in great designer patterns.

ConservingNow offers an innovative static window cling for remembering the reusable bags when getting out of your car.

“Over the past few decades, we have come to rely more and more on disposable products without much thought to the environmental impact,” says Gayle Crowell, a co-founder of  “We know it is a difficult habit to break but with the help of our car window static cling reminder, we can each do our part to ensure a healthy planet for future generations.”


Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering as a family! There are countless ways to help improve your community — and the planet. Begin by talking about what your passions are as a family and research what groups or causes are best suited for your interest, ages and availability. Reach out to your school or church to find out about volunteer opportunities they are involved with or check out websites such as or

If time is an issue, consider a financial donation. Your family can set a time to visit the organization and present the gift as a family.

Sometimes starting a new tradition can be as easy as asking older relatives what they remember doing around the holidays when they were growing up.  Home canning, preserving, curing meats, making jams and chutneys and baking breads and cookies are longtime family traditions that deserve revisiting. If you have a home garden, head outside or, if you don’t, head to your local farmer’s or fresh market and pick up items to cook as a family.

Recyclable Decorations

As consumer awareness has grown, so has demand for seasonal items, such as Christmas trees and wreaths, that are not grown with or covered in pesticides. The good news is that there are a number of farms that sell pesticide-free versions of holiday favorites.

Since living plants and vegetables have a limited life span, what to do with them after the holidays is sometimes a bigger concern. If you are able to find chemical free décor, the perfect solution is to compost at home or through your community. Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in landfills. While not all communities offer curbside pickup, you can still recycle your tree. Many cities offer programs to turn your tree to mulch or wood chips. Visit to find a tree-recycling program near you.

Eat Organic and Local

Support local family farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Not only does it taste better, you’ll be doing your part for the planet, too. Looking for an organic turkey or ham for Christmas dinner? Visit You simply plug in your city or zip code and what you are looking for and it provides a list of locations in the area.

Sure you can run to the mall and buy that sweater for your sister that she may wear a few times until it ends up at the back of her closet or you can step outside the norm and buy her family a six-month subscription to a vegetable delivery service or CSA.

Community-Supported Agriculture consists of individuals who support a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. Local organic vegetable/fruit delivery and CSA memberships usually provide weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit but are not confined to produce. Some include the option of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers and other items. Find one in the Tampa Bay area at


Consider packaging and materials when purchasing gifts. You will most likely have a choice between a plastic toy car in a giant box made of plastic and card board or a wooden race car with a simple paper label printed with soy ink.  Your nephew will enjoy them both equally but you have a choice as to what your carbon imprint will be.

Once you have your eco-gift in hand the question may arise as to how to wrap it. Most mass-produced wrapping paper is not recyclable and frequently ends up in the fireplace or landfills. Instead, get creative. Wrap presents with old maps, the comics section of the newspaper, or your children’s artwork. Another option is to make the wrapping part of the gift by using a scarf, attractive dish towel or bandana. Repurposing gift bags and cards collected during the year is also a way to save money and keep trash out of landfills.

Making small changes and getting creative can help you green your holidays without adding tasks to your to-do list.  Plus, you can reduce the impact your holiday season will have on the environment and that’s a gift that the whole world can enjoy.

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