Im Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

I have been getting an early start on my Christmas preparations this year, and I'm pretty excited about it since it's the first year I have done anything before December 23rd. I was reading my Real Simple magazine (love that magazine so much!) and I found an interesting article. It reads:
FIVE MILLION TONS: The amount of trash produced by Americans between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day(...) That's 25% more than we generate in a typical five-or six-week period during the rest of the year.
Now I wouldn't say I'm any kind of nut over it, but I do consider myself to be one who puts some effort into being eco-friendly. So here are some personal tips, some from magazines, and a few from the web- for you to try to make this Christmas a GREEN one! (I've also included some to help give back to the community and further.)
*Substitute holiday postcards for cards that require envelopes.
*Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany electronic presents.
*Don't trash your tree. Find a place to recycle it at Earth911.com
*Do the same with Styrofoam packing peanuts. The UPS store accepts clean foam packaging peanuts for reuse.
*Buy locally made gifts. Presents from afar increase the amount of transportation pollution. Think farmers markets for funky one-of-a-kind jewelry.
*Rather than taking a tree, think about planting one this year! A family outing to plant and "give" rather than "take" a tree makes it that much more special. Or if you must have that traditional tree this year, consider planting one anyways.
*Consider giving the gift of events, rather than tangible items. Pay for a spa day or trip to the zoo. Or, considering the current economy, you can offer your services, such as a night of free babysitting or cleaning someones house for a week.
*Use LED lighting for your tree and home this year. They save 95% less energy than regular bulbs. And while you're at it- turn those lights out when you go to sleep, don't waste energy by leaving them on all night.
*Don't use a plastic tree. Although they DO last longer than live ones, research shows that most people throw them out every few years when they start to look run down from repeated use. They are then sent to landfills where their plastic content makes them last forever.
*Rather than wrapping paper, use recycled items to wrap gifts! Newspapers, magazines, and fabric are all great choices. You can also buy Hemp wrapping paper, which is easier to recycle.
*Recycle old electronics. I saw a thing at Best Buy where you can turn in your gently used iPod for a discount on a new one! Search the net for specials just like these.
*Oxfamamericaunwrapped.com offers the ability to purchase items to be donated by Oxfam to their programs for developing countries. You can buy items like a cow, sheep, or building tools to be donated and receive a photo of the item as your tangible gift for your recipient.
*McFaddenFarm.com sells handmade garlands from fresh Bay leaves to be reused for months afterwards in your kitchen.
*Christmas is the PERFECT time to cut down on your electricity by burning candles and utilizing your fireplace to cozy up with loved ones! Choose soy, beeswax, and vegetable wax candles over non-biodegradable petroleum wax ones. Buy some in seasonal scents like Pumpkin in November (My favorite!) or Pine next month!!
*I LOVE the cards and gifts through the (Red) program. Go to http://www.joinred.com/Home.aspx for all the info and links to (Red) vendors.
*Consider sending out ecards this year rather than mailing hard copies of cards. Who doesn't have an email account these days, anyway?? Plus you can save on stamps AND time.
*I'm also a big supporter of the Surfrider Foundation. Giving the gift of a membership to someone only costs $25 and even gives them discounts at local stores all year long!
So there's a list of ideas. Feel free to post any you come up with as well!

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