Holiday Planet Savers
Here are some fresh ways to tweak family traditions for a greener holiday this and every year.
Incorporate local, sustainable cuisine into the family feast. Ingredients for a traditional holiday dinner can travel up to 30,000 miles. Instead, show support for local community farmers and reduce food transportation miles by choosing a heritage turkey or meatless entrée. Stellar complements may include organic cranberry jelly, mulled apple cider or wine from an area farm, orchard or vineyard.
Adopt or recycle the Christmas tree. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 33 million live-cut Christmas trees are purchased each year in North America, and most end up in landfills. Fortunately, Christmas tree adoption services like Central California’s Rent a Living Christmas Tree are popping up across the country, allowing them to go on living. The potted trees can be rented and delivered.
If tree adoption services are not yet available locally, make sure to recycle a live holiday tree so it’s turned into landscape mulch for reuse as ground cover to hinder weeds and nourish plantings.
Reduce energy costs through efficient cooking. Wait to fire up the oven until the heritage turkey or organic ham is ready to go in; preheating is unnecessary for these slow-roasting items. For baked goods, opt for glass or ceramic pans, which allow cooking time to remain the same while lowering the heat by about 25 degrees. Another energy-saving trick is to place stovetop cookware on the smallest burner possible; more heat will embrace the pan, while less is lost to the surrounding air. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner typically wastes more than 40 percent of the energy generated. Crockpots work well for serving other small family dinners during the busy holiday season or anytime; an entire meal requires about 17 cents worth of electricity.
At cleanup time, load up the dishwasher fully. One load of dishes scrubbed in a dishwashing machine uses 37 percent less water than washing the same dishes by hand.
Send plant-able holiday cards. According to CalRecycle, an estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States, enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. This year, instead of the usual snail mail, send a bouquet of flowers for the price of a stamp. Recipients can plant a GreenFieldPaper.com grow-a-note holiday card in the ground and see wildflowers bloom. For plant-able holiday cards that can be personalized with a corporate logo, BotanicalPaperworks.com offers card sets and party favors.