Tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday

Real Estate Agent with Weichert Realtors

It's hard to believe, but according to Robert Lilienfeld, co-author of the book, "Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are," between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw away a million extra tons of garbage each week. During the season of giving, it sure seems like we're taking a lot from Mother Nature. Here are some suggestions of ways to go green this holiday season, and you just might save some green in the meantime.

New Jersey Estates/
Weichert Realtors

Paul Stillwaggon & Pat Cornish
December 2008

Copyright © 2008 Realty Times
All Rights Reserved.

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday

Start with your gift giving. You may not have ever thought about it before, but some gifts are certainly more eco-friendly than others. Giving an experience, like tickets to a ballgame or an art exhibit, create much less waste than complicated toys and gadgets. And some of the best gifts can be homemade like cookies and cakes, or having guests over for a full home-cooked meal.

As you do begin warping up those presents for family and friends, consider recycling gift wrap. You can easily reuse gift bags, tissue paper, bows and even wrapping paper. For gift wrapping alternatives, think about using reusable items like scarves, handkerchiefs or bandanas. And if you just look around the house you'll probably find old posters, maps, sheet music, wallpaper scraps, magazine and newspaper cutouts, and comic pages which all work very well as wrapping paper.

If you need to ship your presents this year, avoid Styrofoam packing peanuts and try the biodegradable kind instead. You can also use crumpled up newspaper, or even dry, popped popcorn (insert a note inside the box letting the receiver know that they can later treat birds to it).

For many folks, the holidays just wouldn't be the same without a live, fragrant Christmas tree. As you search for that perfect tree, keep in mind that if you purchase a tree from a tree farm you're not damaging forests. Another option is purchasing a potted plant that can be enjoyed year round such as a Norfolk pine, fig or fichus. Artificial trees are also a good choice since they are reused every year and that saves on the gas you would spend driving to the tree farms.

To ignite your family with holiday cheer, be sure to purchase Christmas lights made with light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These lights have been around since 2001 and are ninety percent more efficient than traditional Christmas lights. They also release little heat and last about 200,000 hours. According to one U.S. Department of Energy study, if all families replaced their conventional holiday light strings with LEDs, at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month. The savings alone would be enough to power 200,000 homes for a year.

Once you've chosen your tree, get creative with the decorations. Give it your family's personal touch by decorating it with memorabilia such as a child's first shoe or grandma's hankie scented with perfume. There's no need to go out and purchase pricey ornaments when cookie cutters, pinecones, stuffed animals and toys, and miniature toy cars work just as well.

And start the New Year off on the right foot try treecycling. By recycling your fresh tree you can make a huge difference in reducing holiday waste. Instead of ending up in a landfill, Christmas trees can be ground into wood chips and be reused as mulch gardens, or to prevent erosion. If you visit, you can search your zip code to find the nearest Christmas tree recycling center near you.

Written by Tara Darby
December 16, 2008 



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Paul Stillwaggon & Pat Cornish ,
Luxury Custom New &
Pre-Owned Homes

908-561-5492 (Paul S) 908-310-1358 (Cell)
908-561-6499 (Pat C) 908-578-0890 (Cell)

Weichert Realtors
New Jersey Estates

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Show All Comments
Ella Glover
Lubbock Homes - Lubbock, TX

Great blog and very timley!  Thanks I will try to remember this and do better.

Dec 15, 2008 11:32 PM #1
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great info.  I do alot of this already--I have an artificial tree, recycle paper/bags/bows/etc.  I think so many people are intimidated, although doing small steps really adds up.  Happy Holidays!

Dec 16, 2008 12:22 AM #2
Ilyce Glink
Think Glink Media - Chicago, IL
Best-selling author, award-winning TV/radio host.

Paul- Great ideas! During my childhood, I remember our family throwing away whole garbage bags FULL of wrapping, paper plates, etc. There are definitely simple ways to cut down on this waste. Thanks for passing them along!

Dec 16, 2008 03:12 AM #3
Tim Ludemann
Ochopee, FL

I love the idea of ECO friendly during the holidays if we all do a little it will have a big effect!

Dec 23, 2008 03:13 AM #4
R.E. Renée Hoover, Salesperson
Century 21 Geba Realty, Milford, PA; Licensed in PA & NYS - Milford, PA
Poconos, Pike, Wayne, Monroe Counties, PA; PA/NYS

Thank you for the information.  Without realizing it I have actually been doing some things that are considered ECO friendly - but probably for different reasons and without realizing it.  I will continue to do so from now on with my added reason.

Feb 18, 2009 07:36 AM #5
Anthony Stokes-Pereira
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Nanuet, NY

Hi Paul;

Great post with great ideas, I thank you for sharing.

Feb 19, 2009 12:27 PM #6
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