How to Have an Eco-Friendly Green Christmas Holiday

By: Ben Erickson

CFL bulb with grass

Green is one of the traditional colors of the Christmas season, but the green we have in mind is the environmentally friendly kind. Here’s a list of some eco-friendly, energy saving tips that will put you at the top of Santa’s nice list this holiday season.

1. Use LED Lights

These small Light Emitting Diodes use 80% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, plus they’re cool to the touch. Look for the Energy Star seal for ones with the highest energy efficiency rating.

2. Limit Lighting

Turn Christmas trees on only when you’re in the room to enjoy them. Turn outside decorations off before you go to bed at night, or put them on a timer that will remember to do it for you.

3. Send E-Cards

Replace snail mail cards and letters with e-cards and e-mails to save paper and mailing expense. It also will reduce your carbon footprint since it eliminates the fuel used for transporting standard mail.

4. Shop Online

Rather than burning gas driving around searching for that perfect Christmas present, shop online instead. Having your gifts shipped directly to out of town recipients saves even more energy by minimizing transportation costs.

5. Give Green Gifts

Consider giving eco-friendly or homemade gifts to those on your shopping list. Purchased green presents include:

  • Energy saving items
  • Books on green living
  • Bicycles
  • Mass transit passes
  • Gift certificates to health food stores or organic restaurants
  • Membership in an organic farm or co-op
  • Donations to organizations that support the environment

Homemade presents include:

  • Baked goods and other food items
  • Paintings and photographs
  • Pottery and ceramics
  • Sewing and knitting
  • Handmade ornaments
  • Woodworking projects

6. Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

Here are some ways to reduce the waste from gift wrapping:

  • Buy gift wrap made from recycled materials.
  • Make your own gift wrap from cloth and other materials.
  • Save wrapping paper from gifts you receive to use next year.
  • Reuse boxes for shipping and gifts, rather than buying new ones.
  • Recycle wrapping paper (if allowed by your recycling service) and boxes rather than throwing them away.

7. Green Christmas Tree

Visit a local Christmas tree farm and cut down your own tree. Not only is it a fun family activity, but it eliminates the transportation required for shipped trees. Try to find an organic tree farm that is pesticide free to reduce the toxins in your home.

An even greener option is to buy a live Christmas tree then plant it in your yard after the holidays are over.

8. Make Natural Decorations

Rather than buying plastic ornaments, wreaths, and decorations shipped from overseas, make your own from pine cones, holly, seashells, river stones, and evergreen branches. Christmas tree lots often will give away branches they’ve trimmed off the bottom of trees.

9. Recycle Decorations

After the holidays, but sure to recyle your Christmas tree and other natural decorations rather than sending them to the landfill.

10. Reduce Travel

Between shopping, trips to visit relatives, and the flurry of parties and other activities, the holiday season often involves a lot of travel, which in turn adds more pollutants to the atmosphere. Every gallon of gasoline used by your car releases 19.4 pounds of CO2, and air travel is equally bad. So if you really want to go green, consider limiting your travel plans this year.

11. Save Energy

While saving energy is a good idea anytime of year, it’s especially important to address during the holidays with a long winter ahead. Here are some ways to reduce your energy bills while helping the environment at the same time:

  • Fireplace: While Christmas is all about sipping eggnog while gathered around a fire, your fireplace may actually draw more heat out of your house than it produces, not to mention the pollution released by the smoke. So consider limiting your fireplace use this year, and be sure to close the damper once the fire is completely out.
  • Thermostat: Turn down your thermostat when you’re asleep or not at home, or install a programmable thermostat to do it for you.
  • Lighting: Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) to reduce your lighting bill by 75%.
  • Insulation: Adding insulation to your attic is the best way to reduce your heating and air conditioning bills. Depending on the R-value of your insulation and where you live, you should have 12”-15” or more of insulation in your attic.

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