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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
I'm Dreaming of a Green ChristmasPosted Tuesday, December 8, 2009, at 11:28 AM
This week, world leaders and climate scientists from across the globe are meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss the environmental future of our planet. Regardless of whether you believe in global warming -- though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called the evidence for it "uneqivocal" -- it's pretty hard to deny that it's time for us as a world to focus on sustainable development. The world population is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050, which is a significant increase over the 6-some billion people on Earth at present. That means many more mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, using just the same amount of space and resources currently available.
I myself am trying to be more aware about the products I buy and other actions I take, in hopes of minimizing my carbon footprint, etc. As Christmastime approaches, I thought it would be a good idea to share some easy tips for a truly "green" holiday.
1. Recycle. Yes, of course, continue to recycle the cranberry sauce tin can and all the wine and beer bottles from your Chritsmas party. But think beyond just the Marshall recycling center. Buy wrapping paper and Christmas cards made from recycled materials. Better yet, wrap gifts in newspaper or even fabric. I've been saving the comic pages for weeks and have already begun shading them with colored pencils for my wrapping paper. Don't forget that even the gifts you give can be from recycled materials. Web sites like www.uncommongoods.com and www.eco-artware.com offer a neat selection of eco-friendly presents including record bowls, bottle cap candlesticks and bike chain bottle openers.
2. Reduce. Make shopping lists, whether you're buying Christmas presents or food for the holiday meal, and minimize your trips to the store, which saves you gasoline and also limits the carbon emissions from your automobile. Every little bit helps! Try to buy products with minimal packaging -- it will just be thrown away, which is wasteful, and don't forget, it takes energy to produce that packaging, too. And always take those reusable shopping bags with you! Another way to help the environment at Christmas is to replace old incandescent lights with the newer LED lights. These use 80 to 90 percent less energy, which will save on utility bills, too. Add a timer, so the lights aren't on all night long, and the savings will really add up. Calculate the cost of your lights here.
3. Reuse. And I don't mean re-gift:) Most holiday gift bags and tissue paper can be used more than once -- I swear we have a few gift bags in my house that are probably 10 years old. Take last year's Christmas cards and cut the fronts off to use as decorations or gift tags. In our consumer culture, we've learned to think that new is always better, but it can be nice to repurpose old items in new ways or just reuse the same ones year after year, as a tradition. Do you really need new Christmas towels or pajamas every year? Probably not.
A few final thoughts. Oftentimes, many of the gifts people get at Christmas are things they may not actually need or want. Instead of giving presents this year, or perhaps alongside smaller gifts, give your friends and family presents that will make a difference, too. Adopt a panda or other animal with the World Wildlife Fund, for as little as $25. With the Arbor Day Foundation, you can plant trees in celebration of family members, and $10 buys 10 trees. In 50 years, just one tree will produce more than $30,000-worth of oxygen -- talk about bang for your buck.
Here's wishing everyone a very merry, "green" holiday season!
Little Town Blues Goes to China
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Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.