How to conserve resources during the Christmas season

How to conserve resources during the Christmas season

by Ellen Goff

Here are some fresh ideas for an environmentally friendly approach to the holidays:

Reduce decoractions

Most people could reduce their overall volume of decorations, lights and gift wrap without hardly noticing that anything is missing.

Use energy wisely. Convert some of your traditional light strings to LED-type holiday lights. Remember to turn all display lights off - both inside and out - before you go to bed.

Cut back on packaging. Don't insist on a box for every gift. Use gift bags or wrap a gift with a gift, like folding a scarf over a pair of gloves and securing it with a ribbon.

Reuse gifts

Give gifts that have more than one life.

A basket of herb plants can be welcome greenery at your window during the winter, flavor your cooking in the spring, then flourish out in your garden all summer.

Blooming bulbs like amaryllis or narcissus stay in bloom for weeks. In the spring, plant them outside to rebloom another year.

Recycle your Christmas tree

Although there are more leftovers to deal with in December, you should still salvage as much as possible.

Collect gift packaging, paper boxes and other recyclable materials and either store away for next holiday season or recycle it.

Recycle your Christmas tree, either through municipal collection or by having it ground up into garden mulch (available in some areas). Or, cut the branches off yourself and place them around your shrubbery and planting beds as an added layer of protection against weather extremes.

If you're concerned about enjoying a live tree and being environmentally responsible, relax! Christmas trees protect watersheds and stabilize soil while preserving agricultural land, open space and wildlife habitat.

The cut trees are replanted each year. And, when the holidays are over, real trees can be recycled. If you want to weigh the merits of a live tree vs. an artificial one, visit the National Christmas Tree Association website at for a point-by-point comparison.

Ellen Goff is a master gardener and environmental advocate. Aside from writing about and photographing plants, Ellen tends to a 3-acre landscape she shares with her husband, cat and border collie on the shores of Lake Wylie, S.C.


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