Thursday, December 6, 2012

Preparing for a "Green Christmas" celebration………going traditional

Another year has gone by and it is Christmas once again; oh how time flies. This season comes with a lot of activities, celebrations, decorating, gift exchange and travelling. As we prepare for the festivities, it is important for us to consider our safety and the environmental impacts of the celebrations. With the increasing concern of global warming and drastic climatic changes, let us all reflect on these activities usually associated with increased consumption of energy, resources/materials and subsequently an increase in waste generation.

Making this year’s celebration a “Green Christmas” should not diminish the excitement that comes with the season but should promote creativity, cost reduction, team work and conservation. In achieving this we can adopt the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) in the hierarchy of waste management to ensure we reduce the volume of waste generated during with celebrations.

Here are just a few suggestions for preparing for an environmentally friendly Christmas celebration. Once you start, you may come up with your own green initiatives as you get involved and caught up in the spirit of Christmas.

  • Have a theme: Christmas is a time for reflection; not for extreme spending but reaching out to others and expressing the love mirrored by the season.
  • Plan ahead of the season: Planning in accordance with your theme will reduce the chances of impulse shopping. With most departmental shops and stores having promos or discount sales, it is tempting to buy superfluous items thus; faced with the challenge of disposal afterwards.
  • Consider making your Christmas decorations: There are lots of creative ideas on how to make Christmas decoration from used materials. Creating your Christmas decorations, cards and even gifts with your family and colleagues can create opportunities for improving relationships and creativity. 
  • Share Eco-friendly gifts: These include items made from recycled materials, energy saving, rechargeable or solar powered gadgets and appliances.
  • Reduce paper consumption: You can either make your own Christmas cards from recycled paper, buy cards printed on recycled paper or better still, send electronic-cards via email.
  • Eco-friendly hampers: An eco-gift could be a fruit hamper which contain fruits which are 100% biodegradable unlike the standard hamper which would contain items such as gift wrappers, tins which are non-biodegradable.
  • Use of disposable items such as plates, cups, and cutleries should be reduced to the barest minimum as this amount to a large volume of solid wastes. Instead, employ use of reusable utensils preferably ceramic that can be washed up and reused.
  • Conserve energy: With so many decorative items relying on electricity, energy consumption increases therefore directly or indirectly contributing to an increased greenhouse gas emission and subsequently global warming. Use of LED Christmas lighting is recommended for reduced power consumption over standard lightings. Also remember to turn off all lightings after power outages, when going to bed, leaving the office or homes to prevent fires.

  • Christmas cards, calendars or magazines from previous years can be used to make decorations, cards, gift tags, 3D snowflakes and other creative crafts
  • ·       If you choose to buy decorative items, purchase high quality, durable items that can be reused over a long period of time. Cheap decorations are not eco-friendly because they have disposal challenges and are mostly non-biodegradable.
  • Artificial Christmas trees are environmental friendly because they provide the opportunity of being reused as opposed to cutting down living trees that promotes forest thinning and deforestation thereby altering the ecological system and reducing biodiversity
  • Fabric or clothing can be used to wrap gift items neatly; they can also be sewn into gift bags

  • Discarded items such as papers, old clothing, and appliances can be crafted into decorative items and cards.
  • Use existing gardens and flowerbeds for outdoor decorations: Use of twigs, fruits, pine cones, fallen leaves to make wreath and other ornaments for outdoor decoration.
  • Buy locally grown food: Transportation cost, increased carbon emissions and packaging with non- recyclable materials are some of the environmental impacts of importing food to be used for the Christmas celebration. Buying locally produced food can ensure you eat fresh and healthy foods

Be creative:

We can start now by integrating some of these initiatives in the preparation and celebration of Christmas. 
Having a “green Christmas” gives us an opportunity to provide solutions to the growing environmental concerns. 

Remember Christmas is for a season but the earth is our future; let us preserve it. I wish you all an Eco-friendly holiday.

Further reading:

En-pact Solutions Limited, 2012
Twitter: @OReese2

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