GREEN YER HOLIDAYS!
King County's EcoConsumer Tom Watson, an old friend of the show and general all-around goofball, has these Top Five Tips for greening your holidays:
1) Be selfish
Easy one, right? And it's definitely an effective way to reduce our environmental impact during the holidays. Don't buy anyone any presents! Of course, if people are giving you presents, and not getting anything in return, this could result in severe loss of relationships. So maybe we'd better move on to the next tip...
2) Give important stuff, not crap
Just to be serious for a second, some of the cheap stuff we buy for presents or stocking stuffers (or for decorations) actually has a pretty high price that we don't pay. A lot of that stuff is made in countries like Bangladesh and China where they may have terrible working conditions and little environmental protection. So instead, think about gifts like making a donation in someone's name, or volunteering in someone's name (only do that if the givee is into it, but lots of people are). Or, if you still want to give "stuff," make it something practical. For example, if you're a couple and thinking about getting a new TV for your place, why not make that your joint Christmas gift to each other, and pay a little more and get a nice (and energy-efficient) one?
3) Christmas ain't everything
King County calls its program Green Holidays for a reason. Christmas isn't the only winter holiday, people! Let's have a little respect for the people who celebrate another religious holiday, or who just don't give a rat's-you-know-what about Christmas. Although Christmas is where a lot of the waste is, let's also think about ways to reduce our eco-impact (and save money of course) during the other winter holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year's. And if you're Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah, for example, a lot of the standard green holidays tips (which probably seem annoyingly Christmas-centric to you, and you're right) will also work for you.
4) Raid your yard
If you have a yard, you can probably find stuff in it to use for holiday decorating. Trim a few branches off that cedar tree or giant holly bush or that weird little plant with the red berries. Make a wreath for your door, or a garland for your living room. If you don't have a yard, raid a friend's or neighbor's yard. But ask first, so you don't get shot!
5) Enough with the food!
Maybe the winter holidays should really be called, "Let's eat a bunch of unhealthy foods and gain 10 pounds!" And worse (almost) than the weight gain is all the food waste during the holidays, which really takes an environmental toll. Pay attention this year, and try to cut down on some of that waste. When you make a bunch of food for a party or that big holiday dinner, have a plan for all your leftovers, to make sure they don't just get thrown out (store them the right way, or give them to guests you know will eat them). Maybe make or serve a little less food this year if there is always tons left over. Don't give food gifts unless you're sure the givee wants them and will eat them. If you have an unopened food gift you know you won't eat, donate it to a food bank.
So there you have it. Thanks Tom! For more fun ideas, see King County's cool Green Holidays website at www.KCgreenholidays.com. Happy green holidays everyone!