For Jingle Cats. I'm just going to apologize up front because you are most likely going to want those few minutes of your life back when you've clicked on the link. I know I did.
Speaking of Christmas, I'm attempting to green things up around here, environmentally speaking. I've tried to make changes all through this past year, small, sustainable changes. You're not going to find a composting toilet and hemp clothes in my house. At least not yet. I figure the best way to make good choices for the environment is to make choices I can keep making. We made a commitment to recycle this year and we've started replacing our lightbulbs with compact fluorescents when they burn out. We bought low-VOC paint when my study needed repainting, and we have tried to unsubscribe to as many catalogs as possible. I'm spending a LOT more on cleaning products and some paper goods since I've switched to earth-friendly or post-consumer recycled products. (Some of these choices have been more successful than others. I am totally smitten with the Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products, but my printer HATED the post-consumer recycled paper and jammed every time I tried to use it. The unbleached paper towels are great, but the toilet paper--um, NO.)
Anyway, the biggest change came in my attitude when I finally realized it didn't have to be all or nothing. I could change small things whenever possible and it was still better than doing nothing. (For some reason I have a mental block against remembering my canvas shopping bags, but I'm trying, I promise.) For 2009, I want to do much better. Each of the changes we've implemented this year have been sustainable, and we're much greener than when 2008 started. The last big hurdle this year is in finding ways to make the holidays more eco-friendly because when you really think about all of the waste we generate this time of year it's enough to make you go lie down with a compress and a cocktail. And believe me, I LOVE Christmas. I'm not saying we should Scrooge-up the holiday by any means. I'm just saying that maybe if I take the time to think a few things over, I can have my usual holiday cheer AND be a little gentler on the environment. So here are some easy things to try this year:
1. LED instead of conventional lights. I've read that they use 1/4 as much power as conventional lights, so whatever lights need replacing this year--and some ALWAYS need replacing--will be changed over for LEDs.
2. No Christmas cards. Okay, I will confess that this one is not hard at ALL. I have never liked sending Christmas cards, and giving them up in the cause of eco-friendliness is like eating fair trade chocolate--a win/win proposition.
3. And speaking of fairtrade chocolate, I've bought Trader Joe's fair trade organic hot chocolate mix. I've read conflicting reports about whether fair trade chocolate is as helpful as we think, but it's not sweetened with white sugar, so I'm on board.
4. Rethink gift wrapping. I was perusing the rolls of gift wrap at Target the other day and they were lovely--flocked and gleaming and ever so pretty. And it just seemed like such a WASTE. I have tons of gift bags and ribbons tucked away, so instead of buying an armload of wrapping paper that will just get thrown out, I will reuse as much as I can from years past and fill in with brown paper that can be recycled. I have Christmas stamps and plenty of ink to decorate them with, and even if I didn't, it wouldn't take much to jot out a Christmas quote or a poem onto the wrapping.
5. Handmade gifts. In my immediate family, everyone is getting at least one handmade gift. I can't discuss them just yet because they're sneaky and they read my blog (I'm talking to YOU, Mom), but what I love best is that they are all different. I'm not skilled at any one craft, but there are lots of things you can do when you're a dabbler like me.
6. Online shopping. Instead of mall-hopping, head to the internet. If you live more than two miles from the mall, it is more eco-friendly to have your presents delivered via courier than to use your vehicle to go and fetch them or so I've been told. I'm actually going one step further, and the gifts I am giving to those far away will be delivered directly to them. I'm also giving through Heifer Project to some recipients. It seems especially important this year to think about folks who don't have much, and Heifer is one of the very best ways to contribute. They also send a gift note via e-mail, so you can do an entirely paperless gift--VERY eco-friendly.
7. No new tree decorations this year. Honestly, I have BOXES of things from years past, so we'll be decorating with the goodies we've accumulated instead of accumulating MORE. I usually buy at least one new ornament each year, but the tree is getting pretty full.
8. No purchasing new holiday DVDs. We have several already, and with tivo, it's just too easy to find whatever we want airing sometime in December. So we'll record and then erase instead of having to find space for yet another DVD that will be stored for 11 months out of the year.
9. A gift of experience. As we've all gotten older in my family, we've come to appreciate the gift of experiences rather than lots of material things. For our December anniversary, we decided to give each other a semester of yoga classes so every Monday my husband and I will be spending time together AND doing something positive for our health. (In the past experience gifts in our family have included museum trips, movies, race tickets, etc. Memberships to symphonies or museums or season tickets to sporting events are also memorable and fairly paperless gifts. If you're good at something, you can give the gift of lessons to someone who would like to learn--knitting, baking bread, car repair, boating, origami. You get the idea.)
So that's my starter list for a greener Christmas. If any of y'all are greening it up this holiday season, I would love to know what you're doing!
NOTE: This is Sunday's post. WHY it's posting on Saturday is a mystery to me, but this is the only one going up until Monday. Curiouser and curiouser...