This season, you don’t have to be the Grinch Who Stole Christmas to be green. In fact, you can incorporate some simple, environmentally sound practices into your traditions and enjoy a sustainable holiday.
To light your home for the holidays and conserve energy, use energy efficient light emitting diode lights. LED lights consume 80 to 90 percent less energy than conventional incandescent holiday lights and can save electric costs during the season. To light a Christmas tree for 12 hours each day for 40 days, you would spend an average of $25.13 with incandescent lights but only $0.56 with LED lights. In addition, LED lights have a lifespan of 200,000 hours whereas incandescent lights have a lifespan of only 3,000 hours. LED lights are affordable and available in a variety of styles and colors, and they are available at most major retailers.
Power down your light display during daylight hours. Always extinguish your lights when you are not at home and at bedtime.
Reuse ornaments and decorations every year.
If possible, use recyclable ornaments and decorations.
Create your own ornaments and decorations with reclaimed materials.
Adorn your home with natural, biodegradable decorations such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, fruits, pine boughs, pine cones and berries.
Use soy candles instead of paraffin candles.
The waste generated in the United States increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and one of the largest sources of waste during the holidays is discarded wrapping paper. In fact, half of the paper consumed in America is used to wrap or decorate consumer products. This year, choose recyclable wrapping paper or paper that is manufactured from recycled content.
Reclaimed papers from sources such as maps, calendars, newspapers and magazines can be economical and sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.
Be creative and “think outside the paper.” Reusable materials such as glass jars, tin boxes and colorful fabrics can also create unique presentations. Consider natural materials such as raffia, dried fruits, cinnamon sticks, holly, berries and pine boughs to trim your presents.
Live Christmas trees are generally more sustainable than artificial Christmas trees. However, live Christmas trees can be cultivated with chemical pesticides, fertilizers and colorants. Consider a locally-harvested, organic Christmas tree if such options are available.
Every year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in North America, and nearly 30 million of those trees are discarded as trash. Live Christmas trees should be recycled. For residents of Fort Bragg housing, Corvias Military Living will offer a tree collection from Dec. 26 until Jan. 17, 2014. Residents may contact their community centers for more information. The Fort Bragg landfill will also accept Christmas trees for recycling after Dec. 26. Call 396-6873 or 432-0295 for details.
Gift that gives back
There are many options for festive but sustainable holiday presents. Consider “green” gifts. Visit http://sustainablefortbragg.com for “green” gift ideas.
Give your gifts recipients “experiences” such as movie tickets or passes to a local museum.
Americans send over three billion greeting cards during the holiday season, so to reduce the paper waste, send your holiday greetings and party invitations electronically. If you prefer to send traditional cards, choose cards that are printed on recycled paper. Recycle your greeting cards when the holidays are over.
Choose local and organic foods for your holiday meals.
Use reusable plates, glasses and utensils instead of disposable products. If you must use disposable products, choose environmentally preferred materials made from recycled content or materials that are recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. Avoid Styrofoam products.
Resolutions to reduce reuse and recycle
Common holiday wastes including electronics and waste vegetable oil are recyclable at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center is located on the corner of Butner and Reilly roads, across from the Fort Bragg Veterinary Clinic and just before to the entrance to Pope Field. Hours are Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Call 432-6412 for more information.
Nearly 40 percent of all battery sales throughout the year occur during the holiday season. Choose rechargeable batteries to reduce waste.
If you receive unwanted gifts, donate them to a local charity. Or, regift them wisely.
Have another idea for a sustainable holiday? Share it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sustainablefortbragg.
For more sustainable holiday ideas, visit http://sustainablefortbragg.com.