Green Industry Articles

Tips for Your Buyers: Greening the Holidays

The excess of the holidays translates not only into bloated bellies and credit cards, but also into environmental bloat.

The statistics are pretty daunting.

According to the Clean Air Council, an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated in the U.S. during the holidays. Four million tons of that figure is wrapping paper and shopping bags.

So here are some ways to deflate your impact this holiday season.

Share your green passion--Give of yourself by offering to walk through friends' homes and suggest ways of greening their properties. Spend an afternoon teaching a friend about composting and set up a bin for him or her. Offer books on green gardening and create baskets of green goods as hostess gifts and closing gifts.

Pool resources--Rather than exchanging gifts, collect money from family members that would have been spent on gewgaws and make a donation to a cause everyone believes in. A recent Gallup poll indicates that this Christmas, Americans intend to spend $740 on gifts. Just a portion of that chunk of change could have a huge impact on a non-profit that likely is struggling in this economy.

e-shopping--Online shopping and e-certificates benefits the environment, you and gift recipients in a host of ways. You can dodge the malls and shop in your jammies. Recipients get exactly what they want. Moreover, the fuel required to get to retailers is eliminated and there's little or zero waste--no wrapping, no envelopes, no plastics, and so forth-- associated with an e-mailed gift certificate.

Green grub--Lots of people opt for the 100-mile diet (picking food grown within 100 miles of home) for holiday meals, but for people living in cold climates, it's tough to find locally-grown apricots or herbs. Try the 100-mile approach if you can. If not, consider searching for as much organic, responsibly-grown food as possible for holiday meals. One starting point is Local Harvest, a site that directs you to humanely-raised turkeys and local sources for everything from cranberries and chocolates to food and non-food gifts. You can also type in your zip code and find CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture).

Foodies on your holiday list just might love getting boxes of seasonal produce through a gift membership to a CSA.

Eliminate disposables--That includes paper plates, plastic cutlery, tin pie pans, and throwaway roasting pans. Also, opt for e-greetings and e-invitations, rather than paper and snail mail.

Travel green--Carpool or take public transit to parties and other holiday destinations. And support hotels, resorts, airlines and travel agencies that have embraced sustainability. One source for green travel information is at this page.

Green gifts--If you do opt for gift-giving, lean to green gifts. Do a quick search online and you'll find an onslaught of green gift guides. Also, try to support local retailers to keep your community healthy and consider buying one-of-a-kind handmade items to sustain the arts. Etsy offers an astounding array of handmade items, ranging from jewelry, clothing and pottery to soaps and hand-spun wool.

Recycle--That includes holiday trees and even cooking oil. Locate recycling centers. And if you're giving or getting new replacements for old electronics, such as phones, TVs, and computers, don't chuck the old gadgets in the trash. Find collection points for e-waste.

Source: Green REsource Council Newsletter, November 2009