Blog Archives

Valentines Day Doesn’t Love The Environment

Reflection to Elementary School

 Since it is Valentines Day I was remembering back to my youth when I was in elementary  school. In elementary school parents buy cards for everyone in the class and attach candy to them. This is basically a requirement seeing as if you are the only one not giving a valentine you are at high risk of becoming the class outcast. I remember just as every child I loved getting all the candy, but once I looked at the card once it became unnecessary waste.

The Waste in Valentine’s 

According to Hallmark 188 million Valentine’s day cards are exchanged in America every year which doesn’t include the packaged valentines that schoolchildren give. Although this paper waste is not as much as wrapping paper during Christmas it still has a huge negative impact on the environment.

Green Valentines

For an alternative to buying valentines a great blog I found called ecocrazymom found a great way to create up-cycled homemade valentines from envelopes. Another idea is to make recycled valentines from cardboard and used printing paper. The information on this can be found on How to.

Some alternatives when sending cards to your loved ones are use cards that are plantable paper or seed paper. Some websites to check out for cards are botanical paperworks, Eco Party Time, and Green Field Paper Company.

So I hope that some of you consider this for next year and for all the holidays that use cards.

Will you use some of these resources? Do you have any ideas on how to create green valentines?

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
~ Kahlil Gibran 

My Green Grinch Christmas Tree

Happy New Year Hope Your Holidays Were Happy

Sorry I have not been blogging for a while, I have been super busy with finals, and then the holidays. I got back home and had to do some major decorating. There were no rent a tree companies near me, so I was debating if I should get a real tree. Instead my mom and I decided to be inovative.

A Green Grinch Christmas Tree

Our next door neighbors have a big Sycamore tree and the wind had broken off several large branches. They let us take a couple to play with to see if we could find a way to make them into our Christmas tree.

We took the branches and put it in a pot securing it with bags of kitty litter and a couple of bricks we had laying around. Next we put on a string of clear lights, securing them with small pieces of wire. We had stacked two pots on top of each other to get it high enough and wrapped it in fake snow.  We searched through our ornaments to find a combination of silver and red christmas balls we thought were pleasing. We carefully arranged them onto the tree. We added the Grinch to the bottom of the tree because he seemed appropriate.

All of what was used on and around this tree was found around my house. I did not need to buy anything and it was all reused from previous Christmas decorations. I found it incredibly satisfying to have created it and everyone who visited me during the holiday season enjoyed the holiday spirit it created. I will be taking it down soon the branch will be put into green recycling bin, but I look forward to another Christmas Tree Challenge next year.

I challenge you next year to be creative with your christmas decorating, not only just with the tree but with other things also.  Although I know the majority of people will never change their Christmas trees to this extreme I think it’s important to note that holiday spirit is something you create not something you can purchase.

Do you think you can be creative with holiday decorations? What did you do this holiday to make a difference environmentally?

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

~Dr. Seuss

Lighting Up Holidays the Green Way

Brightening the Holiday Spirit 

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I have started to decorate for Christmas. I love lights, and could never imagine a holiday without them. I know this is not very environmental, so I have researched ways to make it as environmental as possible. This year I have started my own collection of Christmas lights of my own. I decided that on short notice and low budget LED lights are my best option.

Holiday lights have become quite the tradition all over the United States. It goes along with the capitalistic/materialistic view of the holidays, which we have all been trapped into believing, me included. Lights are not only expensive to purchase, but all those lights on at all hours of the night take a toll on your electricity bill, as well as your environment.

LED, Your Gift for the Planet

  • According to the Department of Energy, Holiday lights account for more than 6 terawatt-hours per year, the total electricity consumption of 500,000 homes.  (The majority of lights being incandescent).
  • Incandescent lights burn out quicker than LED lights which last as much as 10 times longer.
  • LED lights have significantly less risk to cause a fire. LEDs also don’t contain mercury.
  • When LED lights started they were often not as bright or attractive as incandescent lights, but with the increase of technology, they are almost identical in my opinion, that is if you find the right brands.
  • LEDs use 80% less energy then incandescent lights.

Throw Away Those Old Lights? 

If you have large incandescence replace them now with LED lights. But if you have mini-incandesent lights you should keep your old lights (if they are still safe to use), until they burn out. Then I recommend switching to LED lights. . If you throw out all your perfectly good christmas lights it creates a huge amount of waste and pollutes the environment.

When you are done with your lights don’t throw them away! Find a local recycling program.

Home Depot offers a trade in where you can get a discount on LED lights. (Although this program has passed for this year watch for it next year). Similar programs can be found with discounts on LED lights such as on Holiday LEDs

Greenest way to Brighten Your Home? 

Solar LED lights have the least environmental impact of all the possible lights that you can use. Solar lights use the solar panel, (photovoltaic cell) which collects sun’s energy and converts it to electric current. The battery is used to store electricity until it is used. LED bulbs turn on when it is dark. Being a new technology they do have some differences in brightness and availability. There are mixed reviews depending on weather, so before buying them make sure your yard would be able to have adequate light.

Pros

  • Easy to setup: don’t have to worry about outlets and cords
  • Convenient: turn on automatically.
  • Safety: No extension cords, lights stay cooler.
  • Free Energy: solar powered

Cons

  • Initial Price: is expensive, but less electrical bills.
  • Sunlight dependent: Without adequate sunlight they won’t shine as long
  • Weather: snow, rain, cold/cloudy can prevent adequate sunlight.

What You Can Do to Keep the Holiday Spirit  

  • Instead of putting up every strand of lights you own, do a smaller presentation of lights.
  • Use LED lights instead of regular lights.
  • Use mini-lights instead of full-sized lights.
  • Turn lights off once you go to sleep.
  • If you live in a place where solar lights are functional use them instead.

What lights will you be using this year? Do you think LED or LED solar is a better option for you?

Those Christmas lights, Light up the street, Down where the sea and city meet, May all your troubles soon be gone, Oh Christmas Lights Keep Shining on

~Coldplay

Are Real or Artificial Christmas Trees Greener?

Benefits of  Artificial Trees 

They are re-used every year.

  • They don’t produce as much waste as real trees.
  • More economical because you do not need to buy a new tree every year.

Clean

  • Artificial trees do not shed their needles.
  • There is no sap to make them sticky.
  • No watering needed.

Safety

  • This tree does not dry out and become a fire hazard.
  • It is made from fire-resistant poly vinyl.

Size options and equal all around

  • These are all the same all the way around, no imperfections.
  • Multiple sizes and styles.

Negatives of Artificial Trees

  • Very difficult to recycle. It leaches plasticizers, stabilizers into landfills.
  • Lack of scent
  • Many known carcinogens including dioxin, ethylene dichloride, vinyl chloride, and heavy metals are produced when PVC is made. This pollutes neighborhoods near factory sites.
  • The effects of these toxins can hinder; male reproduction, development,pregnancy loss, female infertility, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
  • 85% of fake trees sold in North America Originate from China.
  • Contain Lead and other additives linked to kidney, neurological and reproductive system damage in lab animals.
  • Many fake trees have a warning label telling you to avoid inhaling or eating dust particles.
  • Petroleum is used to make them (not sustainable)

Benefits of Real Trees 

  • They are absorbing Carbon Dioxide and emitting fresh oxygen.
  • For every tree that is cut down they plant 1-3 seeds.
  • They are farmed in US & Canada so less distance to travel.
  • 100% biodegradable
  • No toxic chemicals (if organically grown).
  • Able to be recycled, it is composted.

Negatives of Real Trees

  • Pesticides and fertilizers, if used contribute to pollution of watershed.
  • Lots of holiday trees are discarded.
  • It takes 7 years to grow a average 7-foot tree, so there are thousands of acres used in the production of them.
  • Fire Hazard.

The More Environmental Option 

If you already have an artificial tree, don’t throw it away.

Real Christmas Trees have the least amount of environmental harm.

The best option is to buy a live tree. These are potted trees that will continue to live after the Christmas season. They can be planted in your yard, also there are Trees for Rent and The Living Christmas Company. These companies provides trees and then takes them back and allows them to grow taller for the next year. A live tree is the best option for a truly environmental  Merry Christmas.

What kind of tree are you using for the holidays? In your opinion what do you think is the most environmental? Will the industry be able to move towards renting real trees?

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Thy leaves are so unchanging; Not only green when summer’s here, but also when ’tis cold and drear…”

~Unknown Author