Professor Gives Tips on Going Green for the Holidays

Posted: November 29, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

“Green” is the buzzword this year, and it refers to more than Mason and its sports teams. People are actively looking for new and simple ways to be more environmentally responsible. In response to this trend, Susie Crate, assistant professor of environmental science and policy, has some tips for families on how to have a “greener” holiday season.

  • Get a live tree that you can have in your house (be sure to water well) and then plant outside after the holidays — in your yard or somewhere else. The planet needs more trees and they sequester carbon. Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain nonbiodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
  • Attach your indoor and outdoor lights to a timer, and program them to be on only for the several hours in the evening when people will see them.
  • Wrap presents with recyclable wrapping paper, or get creative and reuse newspaper or paper bags for wrapping, decorating with paint, glitter and other stick-ons. If you are a planner, save the comics for several weeks – they make great wrapping paper.
  • Don’t shop at the mall for gifts — fight the consumer lifestyle and return to the true gift-giving tradition — make your gifts. Gift giving is a perfect opportunity to develop your creative self. Think up gifts that will be fun to make and in the end will really be a gift of the heart. Make handcrafted items, sew pillows or accessories, bake, paint or write poems and songs. The sky’s the limit!
  • If you do need to shop for the materials to make gifts or for a gift you want to give that you can’t make, don’t go to the mall. Try your best to go to independent stores and support local businesses. Prices may be slightly more, but you will be supporting your local business community. You have great power in your choice of places to shop. Also, when shopping, bring your own bags instead of plastic bags to carry gifts in. Give environmentally friendly gifts such as a water bottle, battery charger or plants.
  • Look for holiday cards printed on paper with recyclable content, or make your own using scraps found around the house.
  • How you spend your time over the holidays is also important. In addition to hanging out with family and friends, get them to volunteer with you on a project that involves something environmentally friendly and socially responsible, such as an Adopt-a-Highway program or volunteering at a local park.
  • Finally, if you don’t like a gift you got this season, instead of waiting in long lines to exchange the gift, consider donating it to a homeless shelter or other nonprofit organization.

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