All posts by Cherine Fehrenbach

‘Tis the season… to add a little green to your holiday giving!

Although Christmas is only days away, there are still choices you can make to give to those you love and be easier on the planet.

Out of holiday wrap? Try something different! Maps, calendars, posters, scrap fabric, newsprint, scarves, brown paper bags and a little bit of raffia ribbon or twine, are all very creative ways to present gifts to your loved ones. Unlike conventional wrapping paper, these options don’t create massive amounts of waste and toxins that end up in the landfill or waste stream.

Try giving a gift that doesn’t require wrapping in the first place. Opt out of giving gifts packaged with materials the receiver is just going to toss away. Think about giving gifts that can be put into a simple envelope or can be sent electronically, via email. This doesn’t mean you have to go impersonal with gift cards or cash, but maybe try giving gifts that present them with an experience, such as tickets to sporting events, museums, concerts, or even flight tickets for the extra special people on your list. These gifts don’t require extensive amounts of wrapping (maybe as little as an envelope and a simple bow) or can be emailed to the receiver and printed at a later date. If you choose to email these gifts but still would like to present them with something of substance on the actual day, write a card that lets them know they have a gift they can experience waiting for them in their inbox.

If you are one to send cards to friends and family, try sending or giving cards that benefit environmental causes, health and education programs (UNICEF). Use recycled, organic, and/or sustainably harvested materials (Papororganics, Global Exchange). You will usually be able tell all these things by looking at the back of the card. Better yet, try cards that are handmade by you, your friends, or your children. These tend to be more personal and creative, and don’t require fossil fuels to be delivered to a retailer. The best option, though, is to send an E-card instead. They are waste-free, have zero carbon cost, and are customizable to perfectly suit whatever you want to say, to whomever you want to say it to. E-cards are not only directly environmentally friendly, but often benefit wildlife conservation programs with the profit their companies make.

Although it may be late to put into effect all of these holiday get-green ideas, most are concepts that can be implemented with any holiday or celebration throughout the year, and can be kept in mind for the next Christmas season. Happy holidays everyone!

Fake plastic Christmas trees…

Plastic vs. real is always the question when it comes to picking out a Christmas tree. The common misconception is that plastic is the answer. How very wrong!

Plastic trees: are made in China using PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the worst plastic there is! Vinyl chloride is known to be a carcinogen and creates massive amounts of harmful and hazardous dioxins during manufacturing, and in disposal. Many products made using PVC are stabilized using lead, which is harmful to those who ingest fumes or dust coming from the tree or other product made with PVC. On top of manufacturing and disposal implications, there are the effects of transporting these products from their source in China. Plus, there’s no denying that plastic trees do not have a rich, fragrant smell of outdoors, and certainly struggle to look as healthy and glowing as a live tree.

Real trees: can be bought pre-cut, or, you can cut one down yourself at a local U-pick business. These fast and easy-to-grow trees are grown for the single purpose of being your living room feature during the holidays. Not only do you have the aroma of a fresh tree in your home, you’ve purchased a tree that helped to clean the air of the carbon dioxide emissions from the planes bringing fake trees from China! Real trees of course, unlike fake trees, don’t generate harmful dust or fumes, and so are safe to have in the home.

Your best bet, though, is to decorate a regular house plant or use a real potted tree so it can be re-planted in the spring (and then used again next year!), or just decorate the trees outside your house and have a special area for gifts inside the house.