Wondering how best to incorporate Green ideals into your holiday preparations? That was the challenge discussed at the recent meeting of the Berkeley Association of REALTORS® Green Council, concluding its first year as a group. I am proud to have founded this group of dedicated agents, and to serve as their Chair.
Following the basic principles of reduce, reuse and recycle, the Green Council came up with these practical suggestions:
If you’re going to decorate with lights, use LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). They’re much more readily available now than in previous years, and in many great styles and colors. They use only 10% of the electricity used by incandescent lights, and in general they are much better made and more likely to last longer. The bulbs are advertised to last up to 100,000 hours, and many are Energy Star approved, and are cool to the touch.
Decorations for the tree can be inexpensive and fun to make as a family. How many of us remember stringing popcorn (much of which got eaten in the process!) and cranberries? Or making garlands from loops of colored paper? Snowflakes cut from recycled paper are always a favorite on windows or on the tree. Bring out your inner Martha Stewart and use dried flowers, such as hydrangeas or babies-breath, to place on the branches to give them a snow-laden effect.
Shop Local: if possible, shop for any gifts at local, independent stores. When possible, support a local business that displays a Bay Area GREEN Business Program sticker in their window.
The East Bay is especially fortunate to have so many active artists, and this weekend many studios will be open. Buying directly from the artist is an especially satisfying way to do your holiday shopping. Check BerkeleyArtisans.com for a map and schedule.
The iconic local shopping experience is at an organic Farmers’ Market. Possibilities include:
- gifts of preserves made from locally harvested fruit. A local favorite is marmalade from Kensington Marmalade Company, made by Alexandra and sold at the Sunday market (10 – 2, at Colusa Circle). Flavors include Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon with Bergamot, and Tangerine.
- Bouquets of flowers from the market are always welcome, or get creative and make bouquets of various veggies and fruits mixed with evergreens.
- Handcrafted soaps or beeswax candles are often available at the markets, as well as olive oil or spice mixes. Each market tends to have its own local craftspeople selling their wares.
This Saturday, Dec. 19th from 10 - 4 the annual Holiday Craft Faire will be held at the Berkeley Farmers' Market. You'll have many vendors offering solutions to your holiday shopping challenges, and a full lineup of musicians will be there to entertain you while you shop! For the schedule check the Ecology Center Calendar.
Buy organic: look for organic cotton or hemp products, such as linens, towels, socks or other clothing. If at all possible purchase organic and fair trade chocolate, tea or coffee products. For very local chocolates consider Charles Chocolates in Emeryville.A tour of the facility is also a fun activity.
Consider the double reuse: shop at thrift or consignment stores for “gently used” items.
Check back tomorrow for Green Tips, Part 2!