Five Green Tips for the Holiday Season

December 17, 2009, 10:20 am

by Ashley J Pettigrew

The holiday season can traditionally be a season of excess. In the midst of all the delicious food, sweets and presents it can be easy to forget many of earth friendly practices that we make a habit of during other months. Here at American Park Network, we’ve put together five simple tips that can help keep your holiday celebrations green and our neighborhoods even more pristine.

1. The ever-important Christmas Tree -- There is widespread debate over the merits of real trees and fake trees. Both have their advantages. However, if you do choose to go the real tree route make sure your tree is pesticide free. Christmas trees like many farm-raised products can be subject to harmful pesticides. There are several organic Christmas tree farms located across the country that don’t use harmful pesticides. Find a pesticide-free tree near you using this guide. If you have a yard, consider purchasing a live tree that you can plant at the end of the holiday that will provide satisfaction for more years to come.  If you can’t plant your tree, recycle it. Each year, millions of trees make their ways into landfills when they can easily be used for mulch and other purposes. Many cities have programs that encourage residents to recycle their trees. New York City is offering residents the chance to bring trees to locations throughout the city where the trees will be turned into mulch. Check with your local recycling authority for more information.

2. Wrapping paper -- Gift wrapping is always an important part of the holidays. There are several ways to make your wrappings earth friendly. Everything from newspapers, to paper bags, and reusable cloth all make for great wrappings. If you absolutely can’t live without your wrapping paper, several companies make green wrapping paper. This paper is made from 100 percent recycled materials. When using wrapping paper it’s  always a good idea to buy solid colors. Solid colored wrapping paper can be used for all sorts of occasions and prevents you from having to buying different wrapping paper for the holidays and other occasions.

3. Green gifts and toys -- While shopping for gifts, it’s always a good idea to know where your gifts are coming from and how they are made--this green gift guide is a good a resource. Wood products are much better and healthier than plastic, especially for children’s toys. Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC ) plastics which are not biodegradable or degradable and they can leech dangerous chemicals. If you are buying a gift that requires batteries consider investing in rechargeable batteries. They’re not only easier on the environment, but they will also save you money in the long run. Also check our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide for more ideas!

4. Recycle old gifts -- If you have the latest cell phone or iPod in your sights this year, don’t forget about your old one. Recycling old gifts is one of the best ways to promote sustainability. Several companies and charities will gladly take that outdated product off of your hands free of charge and put it in the hands of someone who will be grateful for your generosity. The EPA has a great list of recycling programs for electronics including mobile phones, televisions and computers.

5. New Years Resolution -- Make this year the year you commit to earth-friendly practices. Visit our New Years Resolution Guide to help make this a resolution you actually keep.