There's such magic in Christmas. The smell of freshly baked cookies at Grandma's house, rosy cheeks & hot chocolate at the end of a chilly December day, the soft glow of the twinkling pine lighting up the room with love. In an instant, it brings you right back to being a kid again. Tack on a few candy canes and popcorn balls and all of a sudden you're 8, beaming with excitement in your footie pajamas.
These days, we could all use a little bit more of that... as long as we don't hurt the earth along the way. You already know where we stand on the age-old tree debate, but your planet-friendly d(eco)r shouldn't stop there. So in the spirit of the season, here are some of our favorite ways to spread Christmas cheer to the only home we'll ever know. We owe her that much. ☺
Oh, Christmas Tree!
L, E & D: these three little letters are all the rage - and for good reason. LEDs, or ultra-efficient Light Emitting Diode bulbs use 95% less energy than traditional incandescent lighting. When used indoors, they last up to ten times longer than the alternative. Plus, they don't burn or shatter (are you listening, cat lovers?). It's a Christmas miracle!
How about money as a motivator? 'Cause this time of year, Santa is all tapped out. Powering 500 LED's over a 30 day period will set you back about $0.19, while your go-to set from the 80's racks up an $18 bill. That's almost 20 bucks worth of stocking stuffers we're talking about here. Either way you go (cough, LED, cough), remember that both types of lights are recyclable. Check your local hazardous waste collection site, or donate your broken strands to The Christmas Light Source: a non-profit that donates proceeds to Toys for Tots. We're feelin' all holiday time warm & fuzzy over here.
Remember your 8-year-old self on Christmas morning, buried in an endless sea of crumpled wrapping paper? Well, if you were me, it was nicely folded, but that's another story. Eventually your mom comes in to ruin the fun, massive garbage bag in hand. And since endless rolls of Santa and Rudolph are dyed & laminated, your holiday cheer ends up on one-way trip to the dump. It's a not so festive fact: each year, Americans generate 4 million tons of trash from gift-wrap alone. That's enough red & green to circle the planet 9 times.
According to Stanford University, if each American wrapped three gifts in reused materials, the saved paper would cover 14,000 football fields. Think earth-friendly alternatives, like old comic books, paper bags (hello, 7th grade book covers), or funky scraps of fabric. Even old shipping envelopes and clay flowerpots make for one-of-a-kind wrapping. Slap on a repurposed bow (we're loving these from a 1940's hymnal!) or some vintage twine, and your fellow flower child will thank you. Mother Earth will, too.
No Christmas tree is complete without ornaments. Unless of course you have toddlers or 6 cats, in which case we'll give you a pass. But while the baubles you've been decorating with for the last few decades might be picture-perfect, they're probably full of more than just memories. Most vintage ornaments contain mercury and lead, making them toxic to handle. If you insist on carrying on tradition, break out the gloves. Your stellar bill of health will thank us later.
New seasonal products like tinsel, artificial wreaths and beaded garlands have also been proven to contain high levels of dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals like lead and bromine. Consider getting crafty and making your own decorations this year (yes, we're serious - you can do it). Here's a roundup of 75 DIY decor ideas that'll be sure to get you in the spirit. Plus, how cute are these homemade holiday ornaments that bake right in the oven? And no, you can't eat them... we asked.
This holiday season, let's give back to the earth the best way we know how. 'Cause there's no time like the present.