Your Holistic Guide To a Greener White Christmas (In just 14 steps!)

Dreaming of a green Christmas but a little stumped on where to begin?

Tuesday afternoon my step father and I bundled in fluffy coats and warm winter mitts and set off to scout out the perfect little Christmas tree as the evergreen centre peice to our family room. Nessled in a swirl of pine we spotted just the perfect one with a full, dense, bottom, white frosted tips and a bald spot at the nap of the long spindling neck. It was beautiful and though the car ride home savoured a road side stop as the trunk flew open, we made it home with the tree still intact. Success! Now getting it out was the real test of strength. How many Christmas tree enthusiasts does it take to yank a tree from its snug fit in the back of the car? Answer: 3.

With the tree perched in the family room, awaiting tomorrow when we will be trimming its branches with DIY decorations, I snuck a branch to my room to satisfy my lust of the aromatic pine. The perfect, chemical free air freshener as it is. And in the spirit of chemical free and green, let us spruce up this Christmas with an evironmental twist. Here are my top easy holistic steps to a greener white Christmas!

A Green Home

  1.  “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how real are your branches?” – Buy a real christmas tree
  • There has been much debate over whether or not to go real or fake with both sides issuing a valid debate. But I will continue to support real trees. Though chopped down each year, at least they are grown in the first place and continue to be. Bonus: they are recycleable!
  • Make it green:
    • Buy local
    • Choose from farms that utilize the least chemicals possible
    • Recycle your tree after Christmas

2. Make all natural air fresheners

  • Whether or not your fresh pine tree is enough freshener, there are plenty of delicious smelling, stove top recipes that simmer and fill your home with aromatic fragrance. You can see my pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/Lifeofeden/  for recipes. The board: Christmas Cocoa and Fairisle Sweaters.

3. Save your energy putting up the lights

  • Save time and electricity but using lighting sparingly. This goes for inside and outside the home.
  • Opt for energy efficient, LED light bulbs.
  • Set a timer to turn them off around your bedtime.

4. Decorate with natural decorations

  • Instead of bowls of christmas bulbs, have vases and bowls of festive edible fruit arrangments (apple, oranges etc.) and nuts
  • Utilize pine cones and fallen branches etc.

ever green

Gifts that keep on Giving

5. Less is more

  • There is no need to go overboard on gifts. Focus in on less gifts that mean more.

6. Create a wish list

  • Others will thank you (we all want to give you a gift you will love) and you will recieve something you actually want. Bonus: you can relax your facial smiles – no forced smiles needed!
  • Make it green:
    • When making your list, think more about what you need instead of want. Ask for things you would have had to buy anyway, things that you will use time and time again, things that will last. And, of course, sneak in an item or too that is a complete splurge. Something you want but wouldn’t otherwise buy yourself, you deserve it!

7. Please Purchase Responsibly

  • Look for fair trade, support small local buisness as much as possible, less is more for packaging and steer clear of anything from China.
  • Bonus: When buying at small, local buisnesses, you tend to avoid the massive crowds of the Christmas mall rush and inevitable run ins with “Canada’s worst drivers” in the parking lot

8. Go DIY

  • Make as many gifts as possible! Or get crafty and think outside the box. Gifts don’t have to be store bought, they can be your friends’ favourite cookies (with – gasp! – your grandmother’s secret recipe for them), or skating lessons, a yoga membership, a gift card for something you two can do together, you name it!
  • Bonus: Buying something active will save that person from the post christmas overload of consumer workout equipment purchases and you may not have to wrap these gifts at all!

9. DIY your cards

  • Commercial cards use an expansive amount of waste. Make your own, make them smaller and add your personal touch. I am the official card writer in my family because of my quirky (or otherwise utterly corny) sayings littered with puns, but a nice, little handwritten message will go a long way
  • Make it green: the best and easiest way is through e-cards! Nothing to dispose of, just be sure to add your own personal touch to these too.

10. “Packages, boxes or bags!” Reusable wrapping!

  • From our adorable printed bags (no doubt from China) popping with tissue paper, you would never guess that they are moderatly eco-friendly. But what’s encased in them isn’t the only surprise, many of these bags have been in my family since I was a child. And the tissue paper is used until it’s brimming will holes. I, myself, try to get away with reusing it as much as possible so don’t look at your wrapping too closely 😉
  • Make it green:
    • Reuse your bags and gently tear the tissue paper from them as you unwrap them so that you can fold it neatly and reuse them next year. This can be done with bows, tags and even wrapping paper too.
    • I like to use old newspapers for wrapping. One Christmas I was able to fit a Christmas tree crossword on the front of my Mom’s cookbook and Dexter (one of the shows he watches) with blood splotches on the front of my brother’s gift.
    • Choose hemp or wrapping paper from recycled materials

11. TAPEr this down

  • Use tape sparingly or not at all. My step father uses tape at every crease possible. The tell tale sign he wrapped the gift: tapping the paper to the gift! TAPEr this down.

12. Regift!

  • This is a fantastic trend! Have something you don’t want or need but know someone who will appreciate it? Pass it on!

flowers

Festive Feasts

13. Splurge on the Bird

  • This is not the time to be cheap. Opt for a turkey that is local, free range, organic, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free! Now thats a roast to feast on. By buying local, you can reduce your ecological footprint up to 75%!

14. Taste, don’t waste

  • On average, Americans waste up 96 billion pounds of food each year, according to the USDA
  • Keep it green:
    • Take a taste of the food and remember, you can always go back for more.
    • Utilize the left overs. Something you don’t think you can eat before it goes bad? Freeze it or divi it up for your guests to take home and savour the next day. I’m sure they will appreciate not having to cook for that meal.
    • To make good use of this, let your guests feed themselves! It easier for you and it allows them to take only what and how much they want.
    • Plan your meals and how much food you will actually need to avoid waste later. Compost what doesn’t get eaten and cannot be salvaged

I will still be wishing for a white Christmas of course, but will be doing my part to make it a green one too!

Sprucing up Christmas,

Suzanne Eden

Manifest Monday // A Charles Dickens Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a Movement in Sustainability)

Tis the season of bulging stockings and empty wallets. Abundance in consumerism but a depleted earth. Admist a surplus of materialism, what are we truly giving? Where is our planet, the giver of all things, falling amongst the intricate wrapping and shiny bows? With financial stress and strains, it is no wonder so many have found the Bah-Humbug of Embinesor Scrooge. Perhaps, just like our friend, all we need to do is realise that the future does not have to be as we see it now if only we wake up and make a change.

 

I belive in the good things coming

Dear readers,

Now before we begin, let me assure you, I am an absolute christmas fanatic and in no way am I saying that gift giving is wrong. It is a wonderful thing when it comes from a loving place, in moderation and done right, can give back to the environment too. Thats where I see us heading too in the furture; a greener, more sustainble, balanced celebration with less gifts and more presence.

 

Christmas is a time of giving. YES! But we’ve come to a shift. A shift from  giving away our money, our sanity, and our planet’s natural resources to giving back to the environment instead. Are you ready for a green christmas?!  The true spirit of Christmas, afterall, lies beneath the wrappings and gift bows and even, dare I say it, the feast of festive food! The most meaningful part of it all is family coming together for the gift of unity. Yes, that gift. The gift that cannot be manufactured, shipped across seas and stamped with a price tag.

 

FACT: Our world cannot sustain Christmas as it is now and we are the ones who are going to change that!

Greener

Unlike Scrooge, without a grim attired spirit to directly show us our fates to come, we can turn a blind eye to buying so many things, especially when it’s a cultural tradition. In psychology we often relate this to a phenomena known as cognitive dissonance. This occurs when our belief systems do not match up with our realities. We understand that Christmas is harmful for the earth yet our behaviours are in complete contradiction to this. What do we do? As humans, we strive to maintain balance between our beliefs and realities  and so we have a choice. We can either:

  • A) Become a Krank (from Christmas with the Kranks) and decide to opt out of Christmas altogether
  • B) celebrate Christmas in an actively sustainable, unconventional way
  • C) not pay attention to our environmental impact and put more mental focus on the “stuff” and gift giving and wrapping

When we feel overwhelmed or that there is little we can do, we naturally revert to the option of least resistance. In this case, likely option C, the one we are often accustomed to. But that isn’t to say that just like our dear Scrooge we can’t turn this around, we can! All we need to do is wake up.

The STATutory Holidaze

According to stats Canada’s annual Christmas by the Numbers feature for 2012:

  • 230.2 million – value of christmas decorations imported to Canada (the majority coming from… you guessed it, China)
  • 4.4 Billion – the value of food and drink purchased
    • Us Canadians happen to be one of the highest ranking in food waste
  • $548.9 million — The value of televisions and audio and video equipment purchased in Canada in December 2012. (just Tvs, audio and video equipment alone).

The Story of Stuff

First things first; in waking ourselves up, we need to understand why we want to do it. Just as gripping as a Christmas carol, the story of stuff is a beautifully illustrated representation of the past, present and future of our consumerist economy. We can begin this Christmas to head towards a better system, a more sustainable, holistic system that gives to everyone, including our earth and fellow inhabitants. Afterall, where are Santa and his reindeer going to live when they can no longer call a melted North Pole home?

This is an absolute must watch video that’s cute, fun and extremely informative!

So now that we’re a little more informed, what do we do about this? That’s truly the big ticket item here after all. Here are a few tips to reduce our cognitive dissonance:

1. One foot in front of the other
Just as I recommend for your diet, take on one thing at a time. When we become overwhelmed, we feel a lack of control on our situation and will often revert back to our old habits, these are safe, these we know. Creating new habits takes time. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you are well on your way to a greener Christmas!

2. Make the chosen path more valuable and enjoyable

This is all about shifting our focus. Think of how amazing it feels to know that you are celebrating Christmas while doing good for the earth!

3. Consistent Beliefs

Become conscious, from here on out, with what you are purchasing. Lets keep in mind what we need instead of want, what we can give instead of get and what will benefit us and our earth for future generations to come. Is it ethical, sustainable, or is there a better choice? Make the best choices you can. Now that your actions are in line with your beliefs, you won’t experience that discomforting dissonance.

These are just a few tips (with more specific ones to come) to get you moving towards greener, more sustainable Christmases to come! We want the future glowing as bright as the energy efficient Christmas lights that are used sparingly around your festive home!

With loving steps to a greener future,
Suzanne Eden