Whether you are looking at your own ecological footprint or that of your community, chances are it gets a whole lot bigger during the Christmas season. If the message of Christmas is peace and love, including love for the planet God gave us, there must be ways to make it greener. Here are 10 tips:
1. Green your Christmas tree. If you buy a real Christmas tree, make it a live one to be planted later or have it chipped for a good cause. If you have an artificial tree, keep it for many years!
2. Think before you shop. In this world where newer, more and bigger is supposed to be better, stop and think about what your family members and friends really need rather before you shop. Also buy gifts that will help them help the earth.
3. Give gifts for the planet. There are many opportunities to give to the environment and/or the less fortunate on our planet. My family decided to do that one year. We got together and looked at gift lists from several organizations and we all had fun choosing where our Christmas dollars would go.
4. Wrap it green. Newspapers are just as good for covering presents as wrapping paper, and they are already on the way to the recycling bin.
5. Go with green lights. Changing your incandescent lights for LEDs is easy (if any of you still have the old style bulbs).
6. Go on foot. A large portion of our ecological footprint is transportation and the number of car trips goes way up at Christmastime. When you find yourself in heavy traffic, think about whether you could have walked or taken the bus to the store instead.
7. Enjoy God’s good greenness. The holidays are a great time to get out and enjoy the wonder of creation in the Pacific Northwest here.
8. Invite people over. “Going out” tends to happen much more at Christmas, but it’s also a chance to have folks over to celebrate friendships with perhaps a slightly lower footprint, depending on how lavishly you entertain.
9. Make it homemade. When you do entertain, a big bowl of punch, apple cider, eggnog or whatever can reduce the need for individual drink packaging. Likewise homemade holiday goodies tend to be greener.
10. Start a green tradition. Is there a special place you visit or an activity you do every holiday season? If not, as mentioned in tip #7, our Pacific Northwest environment is a great place to start a tradition of enjoying the gift of nature at Christmas.
David Clements is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University