Being more eco-smart and "green" during the holidays is a new tradition that doesn’t necessarily cost more than the customary way of doing things. However, it may take a bit more conscious effort, which can be a good thing during this season of rushing around.
Local lifestyle experts recommend ways to step back and be more eco-conscious during the holidays. “Too often the holidays become about stress, pressure, over-consumption of resources and over-production of waste instead of giving back,” finds Deborah Eden Tull sustainability coach and author of The Natural Kitchen: Your Guide to the Sustainable Food Revolution.
Here are some ways to go green and give back to the planet this holiday season.
Green and festive holiday decor
“My main goal during the holidays is to be zero waste,” says Kelly Van Patter, owner of Kellygreen on Sunset Boulevard explaining her holiday season ambitions. She too acknowledges that holidays can be a very wasteful time. Her Echo Park green lifestyle boutique opened recently and is filled with items that are made from recycled and repurposed materials—even the store’s holiday décor epitomizes a thoughtful, low environmental impact approach.
First up: avoid tinsel, plastic and even fresh cut flowers that may have been grown with pesticides. “You can use a lot of what already exists locally and naturally to decorate,” finds Van Patter. She recommends live Christmas trees that can be replanted; at Kellygreen she offers live mini-Cedar trees that add greenery to any room.
Natural boughs of pine and cedar decorate the store. An assemblage of pine cones (find them on many area streets) looks artful when collected together in a bowl. “A bowl of old ornaments can look really festive too,” notes the interior designer. (On a recent visit, Sunset Boulevard’s Out of the Closet had a wide selection of vintage ornaments on sale).
Where does all that wrapping paper go?
Although most wrapping paper is recyclable (exceptions include metallic papers), being aware of the amount of waste generated from the get-go is important. Deborah Eden Tull suggests “remember to practice (in this order): reduce your overall consumption in the first place, find creative reuses for as much as you can and recycle what remains.”
Decorations, gift cards and gift wrap can be made out of creative reuse rather than new purchases, she adds. But for those that aren’t DIYers, St. Jude's Ranch for Children sells recycled holiday cards (and collects used cards) and Kellygreen has cards made from recycled post consumer stock.
Experience gifts, rather than a packaged product, are also less wasteful and have the benefit of always being in stock. They are easy to give and even easier to receive. “The list is endless for what you can give,” finds Bneato’s Beth Zeigler. The pro organizer suggests gift certificates for beauty or spa treatments, movie or theater tickets, dinner out and donations to a favorite charity as ideas for happening gifts.
“If you are going to buy presents, shop locally and put money back into your community,” Zeigler adds. Noting, “There's less of a carbon footprint and your neighborhood benefits.”
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