When the holidays approach, I am the first to sing along with Bing Crosby. You know the line – I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.
But more and more I find myself dreaming about another kind of holiday. One that’s a lot greener – and it has nothing to do with moving to a warmer climate. It seems a bit hypocritical to live an eco-friendly lifestyle ten months out of the year and then spend two months engaging in wasteful habits in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses.
Decking the Halls with Boughs of Eco-Friendliness
Hanging lights outside helps add a festive spirit not only to your home, but also to your corner of the neighborhood. We have a few neighbors who seem to try and outdo each other, adding more and more lights each year! Last year we had to replace our holiday lights. Instead of buying the traditional bulbs, we chose LED lights that last much longer while using a lot less energy.
Instead of buying non-recyclable ornaments, why not decorate your tree with natural elements? Pine cones, lace sachets of potpourri, ribbon, or other homemade ornaments that use earth-friendly materials are all great alternatives to plastic, non-eco-friendly baubles that often wind up in the garbage bin.
It’s a Green Winter for Me
Using eco-friendly methods to prepare your home for the holidays won’t just save energy and help Mother Earth, but it will also help keep your hard-earned cash in your pocket. That’s right, going green and practicing earth-friendly habits means saving money in the long run. Here are some “green” ways that my family prepares for its White Christmas.
- Clean the vents – A lot of electric baseboards or water-powered radiators work best when the vents and other surfaces are clean. Dust and dirt covering the openings obstructs the air flow, which means the unit won’t perform at optimal efficiency. This in turn creates higher energy bills which cost money you could be spending on Christmas gifts!
- Seal the windows – Most of the heat inside your home escapes through the windows. In addition to using plastic to seal in the heat, use heavy drapes and adequate shade to help prevent heat from escaping. Some people are using an interior version of wood exterior shutters as an alternative to plastic mini-blinds.
- Self-programming thermostats – Temperatures inside your home should be at their lowest during the day when everyone is at work or school, or at night when people are sleeping. But with everything else going on, who has time to remember to adjust the thermostat? Self-programming ones not only save you the trouble of doing the job, but they also save you energy, and therefore costs.
- Hot water heater blankets – Home improvement stores sell this type of insulation for your hot water heater. Because it keeps the hot water heater warmer, it takes less time for the water to get hot. That means using less water, which again saves energy. And if you pay for town water, it helps lower your water bill as well.
- Clean the fireplace and attic vents – Keeping your fireplace and chimney clean prevents soot from building up, which could create a chimney fire. Make sure there are no nests from birds, wasps, or other forms of pests in the attic vents. This is also a good time to make sure rodents have not tried chewing their way into your home through the attic vents.
Being Earth-friendly is Almost a Gift by Itself
Another earth-friendly step we took was to abandon traditional wrapping paper for alternatives. Paper grocery sacks are more durable than wrapping paper and easy to decorate. If you’ve been looking for a way to use old road maps now that GPS navigates your travels, use them to wrap up a present. And if all else fails, use the comics section from the newspaper.
This year my family is only exchanging gifts that are handmade, either by ourselves or purchased. Whether bought at a local craft store or online at a site like Etsy.com, the gifts are less expensive, earth-friendly, and often customizable. In preparation for the holidays, we’ve perused sites like Pinterest for other creative ideas.
Overall the decision to adopt a “Green Christmas” is one that everyone in the family enjoys. From the youngest cousin to the oldest grandparent, our family has both updated old traditions and created some new ones, drawing us all closer together. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?