Tra la la la la "» 'Tis the season to spend money, tra la la la la "» whoops. Maybe not this year.
Maybe it's the constant holiday music. Maybe it's the sentimental warmth that creeps in with wood stove heat and candlelight. Sometimes Christmas and Hanukkah have a way of separating us from our dollars and our sense. This year, make another effort to stay attached to your green stuff. Especially your eco-green stuff.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The economy is providing plenty of inspiration for people to reduce spending, but Southern Oregon Goodwill has a lot to do with helping us reuse and recycle. What are you looking for: trees, wreaths, décor or gifts? "We have every kind of indoor and outdoor decoration or gift that you could want," says Diane Raymond, marketing manager for the nonprofit organization. "Almost all our items are priced between 29 cents and $29.99."
Planning a holiday affair? Goodwill sells tableware displayed in color themes for easy selection. You can buy items and then donate them back, saving space in the landfill while helping the charity eliminate barriers to employment for local residents. It's a win-win. A lot of people must be participating in this green business. Just in this calendar year, Raymond reports, Goodwill has recycled 1,828,568 pounds of textiles. That doesn't include the other items recycled, she says. However you count it, that's a lot of space saved in Dry Creek Landfill.
Choose to decorate with living plants. Dennis Trost, owner of Southern Oregon Nursery, suggests holly, evergreens or even ornamental kale as signature pieces that promote the holiday spirit. "Some people use outdoor lanterns to light their homes," he says. Glass shields inside the metal lanterns protect candles from wind, he says, and they provide an exceptional entrance for party nights.
To minimize use of electricity, simply decorate an outdoor tree with ornaments designed to live outside, says Trost. Choose them in themed shapes, such as icicles or frogs. Glass hummingbird feeders can even be called into use at the holiday.
Try to buy a living tree to decorate, or one that has been grown without pesticides. According to the Sierra Club, up to 40 chemicals are used on evergreens grown for Christmas trees. Consumer choices can make a change there. Then, when you are finished with your tree, make sure to recycle it. Most towns have a local tree recycling program. Some trees are placed into lakes to improve fish habitat. Others are chipped and used for park pathways.
Lower light bills
Trading out your old Christmas lights for ones with LED bulbs makes good sense according to the Sierra Club. Purchase new bulbs for the lights you use most, first. The LED bulbs use about 90 percent less electricity and last between 10 and 20 years, depending on your usage. The Sierra Club also suggests using recycled wrapping paper for holiday gifts (www.sierraclub.org/holidays). It's not a new idea, but they did determine that if every American family wrapped just three presents using alternatives like newspaper or old maps, we would save enough ribbon to wrap around the earth and enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
It's enough to make you start saving the comics.