winter With the holidays upon us, you may find yourself stuck between being a gracious host and being an environmental champion.

Parties and dinners, gift exchanges and happy hours, it’s a lot of activity and it can come with a hefty eco-pricetag — especially when you think of how many other people are doing the same thing!  Here’s how it adds up…

  • An estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the U.S. – enough to fill a football field 10 stories high!1
  • Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week.1
  • 38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown away each year, enough to tie a bow around the Earth.1
  • Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.2
  • More than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers are published each year. 3
  • American per capita food waste increased to more than 1,400 calories per person per day in 2009, an increase of approximately 50 percent since 1974.4

Don’t panic, ye Holiday Hosts!  If you follow these pointers, you can hold that glamorous green get-together while spreading peace on Earth and goodwill to all!

Feeding Frenzy

It’s hard to plan for the unexpected guest, but considering how no one has probably ever left your house hungry, you may be over-shopping and over-feeding your guests!  Here’s some ideas to trim down the menu:

  • Rough out your menu in advance.  Knowing what you’re serving helps you and your guests plan accordingly.
  • Request your guests RSVP for your party.  If they don’t, call them and tell them you’re finishing up the menu and need to know whether to count them.
  • Buy only what you need.  If it isn’t on the list, don’t get it.  Or, if you do, reduce something else.
  • Bring reusable bags with you to the store!  It’s all about peace on Earth, not pieces of plastic on Earth.

Here’s the deal: it’s the holidays.  People will thank you for helping them watch their intake and keeping the food to a minimum.

Give Accordingly

Green Gift greentertainingYou don’t have to be a glass-blower or master-carpenter to give eco-friendly gifts this holiday.  Consider looking for boutique or specialty stores that offer locally sourced or made products.  Don’t just give for the sake of giving; if you can’t find the perfect gift, odds are, the recipient won’t think it’s all that perfect either.  Instead, think about these ideas to find a one-size-fits-all gift:

  • Gift certificates.  Whether giving someone their coffee fix from the local shop or offering the new parents in your life a night out of free babysitting, gift certificates are an easy, green gift!
  • Event tickets.  Give the rock and roller or the golden oldie in your life tickets to their favorite band as they come through town.  Big venue or small, reliving those “Glory Days” is so boss!
  • Local brew.  Know someone who’s all abuzz about the latest brews?  Give them a growler of their favorite flavor or a flight of something new.
  • Be a honey!  Many of us can go get the things we need in life; this year, give those closest to you some locally sourced honey or bee pollen for their health!  It’s a sweet idea and it supports our local economy.

Dress it Up

Buying cheap, disposable decorations is probably one of the worst ways to wreck the holiday cheer.  In addition to being sorta tacky (who wants to see the same “latest thing” at every party?), they’re often made by under-paid labor and shipped thousands of miles across the sea to get here for a quick use and then to the landfill since they’re often not recyclable.  Decorate your space with durable items and things made from old scraps of stuff around the house; it’ll show off your creativity AND your concern for leaving a better world and leave everyone talking about how awesome you are!

  • When the bough breaks, pick it up!  Old sticks or even branches you may trim from overgrown trees can be spray-painted to match your color scheme or to introduce a splash of color and then finished with a nice bow and some battery operated LED lights.  Lay them on shelves or stand them in the corner to give some dimension.
  • Fabric wreaths.  Give old, worn-out fabrics a new purpose; tear them into strips and sort by color.  Take an old wire hanger and bend it into a circle (bigger circles should use multiple hangers not only to go around but to double up for rigidity).  Tie the strips of fabric in simple knots around the hangers to completely cover the metal.  Since you’re controlling the color scheme, get creative.
  • Buy baby trees from a local garden shop and decorate their pots with ribbon and bows.  When the holidays are over, transplant the tree in your yard for a lasting reminder of your greatness!
  • At dinner, use leaves from the yard as place holders.  Write the name of your guests on the leaves with markers and place around the table.  Get the kids involved and turn it into a science lesson or scavenger hunt, giving them a list of leaves by tree type to collect.
  • Turn yesterday’s questionable fashion idea into today’s etiquette.  Dig out those bandanas from your Guns N’ Roses days and give them a good washing; this ain’t the jungle, baby.  Press them and use them as napkins at dinner.

These are just a few ideas you can use while celebrating.  Remember to use your creativity, and your common sense, to not only extend your holiday budget but to also celebrate the season with the hopes of building a better world.

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