December 14, 2020
By Patricia Gaylor
The week after the Christmas holiday has always made me more aware of how wasteful we are at this time of year. Just by simply driving around at that time and seeing what’s put out for trash pickup is astounding. It’s been said that during the holiday season, we generate 25 percent more garbage than at other times.
This particular holiday season is certainly changing the way we all will celebrate, but it has also given us the opportunity to think about ways to make the most out of an unprecedented situation. Many years ago, I wrote a blog about creating a more sustainable or “green” holiday, and I’m happy to say that years later – and especially this one – these suggestions have become more of an acceptable practice.
Stay Local and Give Back
Now that we are staying close to home and experiencing the sad realization that many businesses and restaurants cannot sustain themselves, it’s important to try to as much as we can to give your local retail and food establishments a boost. Shopping and eating locally and avoiding the big-box stores will help keep your local community viable.
Real or Faux?
There’s an ongoing argument about using a real tree vs. an artificial one. Some say an artificial one is more sustainable because we aren’t cutting down a live tree, which if left uncut would contribute oxygen and generate clean air. But the truth is that an artificial tree is made of plastic and will eventually wind up in a landfill, where it will languish for many years. Live trees are grown on tree farms all over the country for the purpose of seasonal use. And while growing, of course the trees will provide oxygen and shelter for wildlife. Tree farms also boost local economies and keep people and families working. After their seasonal usage, trees are collected and used as mulch, or you can read about clever ways to repurpose them yourself. If an artificial tree is the way you want to go, try to get as many years out of it as possible before surrendering it to a landfill.
Using natural or found materials to wrap gifts can keep tons of plastic-coated paper and ribbon out of landfills. Contrary to popular opinion that all wrapping is recyclable, this isn’t true. Plastic-coated papers, foils and ribbons cannot be recycled. A simple craft or newspaper makes an excellent biodegradable wrap, tied with natural string and garnished with a sprig of pine or holly. Also, a vintage scrap of fabric makes a pretty presentation, topped with a vintage tree ornament, both of which can be used again. Mason jars filled with home made goodies is another good way to spread cheer and keep your carbon footprint lower.
This past year has presented us with many challenges, as well as a few silver linings. We’ve learned countless coping mechanisms. The time spent at home has given us pause to stop and think about how easy it is to get caught up in our day-to-day lives and forget the small things. Our focus on home and family this year has been stressful but also very special. Let’s cherish this time together and think of ways to create wellness and sustainability in our lives. Our homes have always been our haven, but now more than ever we begin to realize just how important that is to all of us.
From my house to yours, wherever you may be and whomever you celebrate with this year, I wish you a New Year full of peace and love.