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Great ways to 'green' your holiday season


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Updated: 12/12/2012 11:00 am Published: 10/03/2012 2:13 pm


(BPT) - With homes adorned in holiday hues of silver, gold and red, these are colorful times. This year, why not "green" your holiday by adopting some eco-friendly traditions? From making holiday meals with organic ingredients to wrapping gifts in recycled paper, it's easy to find ways to celebrate the season and be kind to Mother Nature at the same time.

Earth-friendly feasting

Americans are embracing organic foods for many reasons, from better taste on their plates and improved health in their homes, to the gentler impact on the environment associated with the production of organic produce and meats. If you've never tried organic dining before, give your family - and the earth - the gift of going organic this holiday season. And if you prefer organic foods throughout the year, there's no need to set the habit aside just because of the holidays.

From main dishes of responsibly raised poultry and line-caught fish, to side dishes of sustainably grown vegetables and grains, it's easy to serve a holiday meal that's good for your family and the environment. Companies like Simply Organic offer options for every aspect of holiday feasting, including mixes for gravies, dips and dressings, organic spices, flavorings, extracts and sauces. You can find holiday-appropriate organic products and recipes at www.simplyorganic.com.

Decorating with heart

Some traditional holiday decorations can be less than friendly for the environment, but a cut tree is not necessarily one of them. Consider that the production of artificial trees consumes large quantities of resources and creates wasted by-product. Also, keep in mind most tree lots sell trees raised on farms, so natural forests are not impacted by the tree you buy off the lot. When it comes time to dispose of your tree, consider mulching it yourself, rather than just setting it out on the curb.

What would the holidays be without bright lights? But those little bulbs can consume lots of energy. Switching to LED lights will reduce the amount of power it takes to keep your home twinkling brightly this holiday season. And a bonus of LED lights: they last longer, so you won't have to buy new strands every season.

Guilt-free giving

Gift-giving and the goodwill it brings are at the heart of the holidays, but that good feeling often also comes with ripped wrapping paper, pounds of packaging materials and a lot of energy consumed in shopping. It is possible, however, to give gifts with minimal impact on the environment - and your conscience. Handmade gifts are not only more eco-friendly, they show the recipient that you cared enough to invest time and effort in creating something unique. But if you're not handy, look for gifts that are energy-efficient (like solar-powered items or gadgets that use rechargeable batteries), come with minimal packaging, are made of sustainably harvested natural materials, or that are locally produced.

Intangible gifts can also be “green.” Instead of gifting the cooking enthusiast in your life with a new set of pots and pans, sign him up for a cooking class and attend together. Give your gardening fan a “gift certificate” redeemable for your help when spring planting season arrives.

Greening your holiday season will take some thought and time, but giving yourself and your loved ones a more environmentally responsible holiday season will be something you can celebrate throughout the year.


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