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A Green Holiday

Imagine a wonderful green Christmas day. The scent of fair-trade hot chocolate fills the air as you sip from a recycled / recyclable cup. You look at your beautiful living tree with hand made ornaments and LED lights adorn the entire tree - thankful that your energy bill will not take a bite out of you this year. It's easy to green your holidays, here are some simple tips! Wrapping Gifts

Under the tree, sustainable gifts wrapped in recycled paper. Reuse the things you have around the house such as bags, boxes, fabrics, newspaper comics, magazines, and gift wrap from last year. If you have to go with gift wrap, more sustainable choices include: tree-free paper available in woven grass, Lokta tree bark (made from the inner bark of the Lokta bush quickly re-grown in Napal), banana fiber (made from the bark of the Thai banana tree), spun silk, recycled office paper and recycled rag. You can also buy recycled wrapping paper. Cards Send an e-card or search the National Green Pages for cards made from kenaf, hemp, and other tree-free resources. Or instead of sending a card, make a phone call to a loved one. The Tree Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments are a classic tradition. If you don’t have a living tree, make sure you find a tree-cycling center after the holiday. Ornaments can be a very fun craft and reuse project for your friends and family made out of items that you normally recycle: paper towel rolls, old calendar pictures, and holiday wrapping paper. If you have any ornaments you no longer want from last year donate them to your local thrift store. Christmas lights can be a real energy consumer over the holidays.  Fight back the energy bills by using a timer on your tree. Dinner When buying your Christmas dinner, shop your local Whole Foods Market and support locally grown products to reduce your eco-footprint. Instead of buying all new paper and plastic products, use dishes, silverware and cloth napkins. Make sure you recycle post-party cans, bottles, wrapping paper, etc. and compost food scraps. Thoughtful Giving This year instead of buying that video game, movie, etc. for a loved one or friend, offer your time. Make them dinner, walk the dog, or help with things around the house. Or you can make a donation in their honor to their favorite charity or organization. Shop for green gifts over the computer and save gas. Avoid toys and tape made with PVC plastic. PVC contains a chemical called vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen. Also, there is lead and cadmium in some PVC  plastics to keep it from breaking down - these ingredients can be particularly dangerous for children. To buy PVC free tape, check out this site. Have a great green holiday!

Hayley Leibson is a high school freshman and a member of the Teens for Safe Cosmetics chapter in Marin, California.

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