A Conservationist’s Christmas

It is especially important to reduce as much as possible during a time of year that can get out of hand. Think about what you buy, what is necessary, and what is meaningful when you give.

Published December 6, 2011 5:10 PM
2 min read

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It is especially important to reduce as much as possible during a time of year that can get out of hand. Think about what you buy, what is necessary, and what is meaningful when you give.

 

Trees

When buying a Christmas tree, consider getting a potted living one that you can plant outdoors after the holidays. If your heart is set on a cut tree, get it directly from the tree farm and support local commerce. Once your tree is cut, a new one will be planted in its place. Before being cut these trees have produced oxygen and sequestered carbon dioxide. To find a local farm, go to Christmas-tree.com/real. If a trip to a tree farm does not fit into your holiday schedule, find a seller who knows where his trees have come from. Request trees from organic or low-spray farms.

Artificial trees may seem like a better option because they can be used year after year, but their manufacture is dirty. They are usually produced in China, and on top of the pollution from the factory, a lot of fossil fuel is  burned to get the tree to the buyer. Fake Christmas trees often have lead and other additives in their make-up and can shed lead-laced dust.

 

Candles

 

Conventional candles are made of petroleum-based paraffin wax, synthetic dyes, and artificial fragrances, which are toxic to manufacture and produce indoor air pollutants. Some wicks contain traces of heavy metals, which can release into the air during combustion. Choose candles made of beeswax or soy and fragranced with natural oils.

 

Cards and Wrapping

 

Send your holiday greetings via email or use recycled paper cards. A good source for recycled holiday cards and wrapping paper is www.greenpromise.com. Reuse wrapping or use the gift to wrap itself — a shirt, for example, can be rolled and tied in ribbon.

 

Lights

 

If you need to buy new Christmas lighting, get LED lights. They use about one-tenth of the electricity of incandescent bulbs and will last much longer. LED bulbs will burn for 100,000 hours and the lights are encased in thick plastic rather than thin glass, making broken bulbs very unlikely.

 

Shopping

 

Shop locally to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Bring reusable bags. Only mail order when necessary, as transport and packaging is wasteful and polluting.  Make sure to recycle boxes. Packaging peanuts can be brought to our local UPS store to be reused. Bring plastic packaging to any large store that has collection boxes for plastic bags, such as Stop & Shop or Staples.

 

Presents

 

Avoid battery-operated presents. Make homemade gifts when you can. Consider giving experiences rather than items. Sponsor a wild place with the Sierra Club in a loved one’s name. Or adopt an animal from the National Wildlife Federation.

 

It is especially important to reduce as much as possible during a time of year that can get out of hand. Think about what you buy, what is necessary, and what is meaningful when you give.

—Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee

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