For me, the preparation for Christmas is as much fun as the holiday itself. I admit that though I don't like seeing Christmas in the stores come October, it has been on my mind since the middle of summer. I insist on getting a head start because not only is it much less stressful but I also have the time to put more thought into the gifts, more time to enjoy a party or two, (and perhaps even have one!) and I also inevitably end up spending less by not making hurried decisions.
For the last 6 months I have been committed to living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Not only do I have a concern for our environment, but more importantly I have a 6 year old son and the constant studies about the harmful effects of chemicals, food contaminants, air pollution – you name it - is something I am dedicated to protecting him from. So anyhow, I have decided to make this year “A Green Christmas,” in every way possible. I've come up with a few eco-friendly but also low stress and budget friendly solutions.
- Edible: Since it is hard to go wrong with food, I've decided to give a number of my friends edible gifts. By narrowing it down to two recipes I like, one for apple-pumpkin bread and another for cheddar focaccia, I have streamlined the process. I am going to check with my local market first to make sure they have everything I need and then buy in bulk to save time, money and travel expense back and forth. I am packaging each in an organic cotton napkin tied with a piece of twine.
- Giving Back: For those who are further away, I have selected several charities and am giving to them on behalf of these friends and family. I am making the donations online and sending them the information in an email as well.
- The Tree: I bought an artificial Christmas tree this year so I don't have to cut down a fresh one. Not only does it save the tree, but think about all of the fuel and energy consumed to transport those trees from farms to cities where they don't grow naturally.*
- Ornaments: I am using a combination of natural ornaments. While you can be creative depending on where you live, I have access to seashells and pinecones quite easily so those will be my garnish. I have also made one or two with my son using a new method of wheat-weaving which a friend had mentioned to me. It was a little harder than it looked, but my son and I had fun and got to be frustrated together!
- Lighting: Instead of the normal string lighting around the holidays, I am going use real candles. I have bought a variety of beeswax candles of different heights and plan on having small groupings throughout my home. With a small piece of greenery tucked between, it looks quite stellar.
- Invitations: In order to be both chic and green, I have found one really great invitation from a local artist. I had her add all the event details and such and scan it into the computer. I am going to send it out via pdf.
- Thrift Store Find: I found a great vintage dress at a local thrift store; I also donated a few of my old pieces.
- Placecards: Instead of more paper, I am going to go out the day of and collect a few large leaves which I can then write the guest's name on. If you live in a climate where this is difficult, pinecones with a small piece of twine used to secure a paint sample card (from hardware store) also work well.
- No More Disposable: Styrofoam or plastic plates and utensils are out and traditional silverware is in and will be cleaned in our Energy star certified dishwasher. There are now a great biodegradable alternatives but I have the silver and like to make use of what I have when possible
Meat Free and Local: A Tofu Turkey will be the main dish. I am going to prepare one vegetable to accompany it using what is delivered from my co-op membership, but I am also asking every person to bring one small dish, home made using local ingredients. I have emphasized this doesn't need to be complicated. Everyone loves baked apples which are easy to find at any farmers market or some grocers even have a local food area.
* GPB Note: Isabella works for a company that makes artificial Christmas trees. Whether or not artificial Christmas trees are a greener choice than real trees is debatable. For another option, check out EnviRambo's post on her aluminum Christmas tree.
Image by hussainshafei