I recently had the pleasure of leading a 2 part professional development series called Greening the Holidays & Gifting Green. This series was open to all faculty and staff at the College through our fabulous Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).
In part 1, we discussed many different ways in which one can “green the holidays”, like choosing soy or beeswax candles versus petroleum based candles. Or trading in your old, lead based holiday lights at a local vendor (like Home Depot or Lowes – call before you go!) for a discount on new, energy-efficient and safe LED-light strings. We learned about green gift wrapping – like, do you really need expensive, glittery paper or can you use something that can be used again? Like what? Well, how about a beautiful scarf or a cloth grocery bag? Personally, I just use the funnies from the local newspaper.
In Part 1, we also learned a lot about food and dressing our holiday dinner tables. Food choices are crucial when considering the health of you and your family as well as that of the planet (or more bluntly the other people that depend on the earth’s resources). Eating lower on the food chain (i.e., more vegetables) is proven to be much better for you and, consequently, the planet. Growing plants requires a lot less energy than it does to grow animals to eat. Of course, some families just can’t be without the turkey or ham for that special holiday meal. If that’s your family, our Part 1 group discussed the importance of making sure that the turkey or pig was raised without the use of harmful pesticides, hormones or then processed with toxic additives- the best way to do that? But it local, from a farmer’s market and ask for organic. Find a Farmer or Market: http://www.localharvest.org/
In part 2, we had a lot of fun talking about how to Gift Green. We made stationary and envelopes from old magazines, personalized barrettes from old beads, feathers and other fun items and we made heat pads with old shirts and rice. We also discussed how “green” doesn’t have to be handmade or repurposed. You can give the gift of an experience- tickets to a play! – or give the gift of time – 1 nigh of babysitting!
Here are some really useful links to help you think about greening the holidays. What do you do? Any special tricks you’d like to share? Tell us all about it!
Tasty Low-Impact Recipes from The Small Planet Institute
GIFTS, CRAFTS & DECOR
Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Low-Impact Luxury for High-Impact Giving from TreeHugger.com
Simple Crafts and Hair Accessories from Readymade.com
Tons of DIY (Do It Yourself) Craft Ideas from Get Rich Slowly
Pretty, Natural Table Decor from Planet Green
Estimated costs and savings for Incandescent holiday bulbs vs. LEDs from the Consumer Reports
Of course, you can always email the Center for Sustainability for other ideas. I am no expert, but I love to help people brainstorm and find great resources to make their event (holiday or not) a happy and Green one!
Happy Holidays to You and Yours!