Mix some green with red this season for an environmentally responsible holiday.
Bring the outside in
Create holiday decorations using items found in nature. Evergreen branches, pine cones, berries and twigs all make wonderfully rustic decorations and can be composted after the holidays.
Consider buying the new LED (light emitting diode) variety of decorative lights. Lasting about 30 times longer than traditional miniature lights, LEDs use approximately 90 per cent less energy. They also emit less heat than their incandescent counterparts (with a wattage of 0.04), making them the safest type to use indoors. Added bonus: if one LED light burns out on a string, the other lights will stay lit. If you prefer the appearance of incandescent lights, look for 5-watt bulbs instead of the standard 7-watt variety. The lower-wattage bulbs mean an energy savings of 30 per cent on a string of 25 lights.
Think global, act local
Find out if your municipality recycles Christmas trees after the holidays. Many cities offer curbside pick-ups and turn trees into wood chips for use in community parks. Contact your city hall for more information.
Green gift wrap
When shopping for gift wrap and cards, look for products with post-consumer recycled content or that have been printed with vegetable inks. Many wonderful green paper products are available on the market today; visit www.grassrootsstore.com to view their selection of gorgeous recycled-content holiday wrap, greeting cards and gift tags.
Save paper by topping oversized gifts with large, single re-usable bows. Wrap smaller gifts in luxurious velvet gift bags that can be passed along and used again and again.
Wrap gifts in gifts
You can save paper by making the wrapping part of the gift. Depending on the nature of the gift, wrap accordingly: bundle kitchen gadgets in colourful tea towels, cover a baby gift in a soft receiving blanket, tuck a few travel gifts into a handsome weekend bag, stuff gardening items in a gardener’s bag or give shiny new tools in a bright red tool box.
Make your holiday get-togethers elegant and eco-friendly by setting the table with cloth linens and serving food on re-usable dinnerware. If you prefer the quick and easy clean up that disposables offer, go for paper instead of plastic — food-soiled plates, cups and napkins can be thrown into your green bin or composter.
As soon as your get-together winds down, store away leftovers in reusable food storage containers. Or send some goodies home with guests in packets made of recyclable aluminum foil.
Send guests paper-free invitations: Web sites like www.evite.com help you design and send festive and colourful invitations by e-mail at no cost.
Get more festive ideas in our Christmas & Holiday Guide!