Thursday, December 20, 2012
Bluegrass PRIDE: Are holidays sustainable? They can be with a few simple changes
'Balled and burlapped' living Christmas trees have become more popular. (Photo provided)
By Joanna Isaacs
Christmas is less than a week away! I can’t believe that I just typed that. If you are anything like me, then you are not done Christmas shopping and you are stressed. If holiday decorating, shopping, and traffic aren’t enough for you to think about, throw in trying to be sustainable throughout the holiday season. Talk about stress! At first glance it seems daunting and impossible – decorations, Christmas trees, cards, wrapping paper. How are any of these sustainable? Well, I have done a little research and implemented a few things I thought I would share!
1. Christmas trees: “Over 30 million Christmas Trees are land filled each year!” I read this and knew I had to change my behavior. I chose to purchase my Christmas tree from a local farmer. I started this tradition 3 years ago and I LOVE it! This allows me to support local tree farmers, and purchasing a real tree allows me to turn my tree into mulch after Christmas. The City of Lexington will pick up Christmas trees from the curb on your neighborhood’s regular service day. The tree will be taken to their mulching facility off of Haley Pike, and the resulting mulch is given away throughout the year to Fayette County Residents. Not only does my house smell festive, but it looks GREAT!
This year I decided to go a step further and keep the end of the tree trunk, called the tree cookie, which they cut off when you buy the tree, to make an ornament of. I am excited for the day when I have a Christmas tree full of tree cookie ornaments! Speaking of tree trimmings, my tree only has LED lights on it. LED lights use 90 percent less energy than regular light bulbs. So they not only look cool, but they save me money!
Another option that has become more popular this year is to purchase a “balled and burlapped” living Christmas tree. Elizabeth, a program manager at Bluegrass PRIDE, has chosen this option. She purchased a Christmas tree from a local farm that has its roots intact and can be re-planted after Christmas. Hopefully this starts a fun tradition for her, and you, that can be carried on each year.
2. Wrapping Paper: “Wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each year in the U.S.” That doesn’t even include waste materials from other parts of the world. I cannot imagine what that number would be. So, to do my part to reduce that number, I have decided that ALL of my gifts will be wrapped in reusable or recyclable material. I have also asked people who are giving me gifts do the same.
One of the best tools that I have found to inspire my zero waste wrapping is Pinterest. I know, Pinterest has been discussed by many people in our office, but it works! I discovered so many beautiful ways to wrap gifts using newspaper, brown shipping paper, and even Pringles containers. Yes, you heard it correctly; an old Pringles container is the perfect size to stack Christmas cookies! BRILLIANT!
All of my gifts this year have been wrapped in brown shipping paper. I have reused most of the bows from my packages last year and will make new ones, in hope of using them over and over again. I am proud to say that after talking with my family this past week, they each were excited to tell me how they wrapped their gifts in fun, unique and waste-free ways! That already makes for a great Christmas!
So as I get ready for Christmas next week, I am so pleased to look at my tree and see sustainability. I hope that this season you will take the time to not only practice sustainability but incorporate it in a way to make memories, traditions, and maybe some behavioral changes!
Joanna Isaacs joined Bluegrass PRIDE as a Program Manager for the LiveGreenLexington Partner program in 2012. A native of Orlando, Fl., she holds a degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Campbellsville University. Contact Joanna if you want assistance making your business more sustainable!
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