SUSTAINABLE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

"Green" takes on a new meaning for the holidays as interior designer, Randy Florke, shares eco-friendly (and budget-friendly) tips for the season. Find out how you can minimize the environmental impact of the holidays, without minimizing the fun or breaking the bank.


Just in case you didn't know it, t's time to focus on the "holidays."  Hanukkah is here and of course, Christmas music has been playing on the radio since the day after Thanksgiving!

 

Decorating for this mostly joyful time of care can be fun but it can also be stressful.  Many of us lose sleep worrying about how to decorate in style and still stay within our budgets.  It's hard to resist a little indulgence especially when it comes to the people you love. But there's a lot we can do to minimize the environmental impact of the holidays, without minimizing the fun or breaking the bank.

 

If you're planning to decorate a Christmas tree, consider purchasing a live tree with its root-ball still attached so you can plant it after the holiday. Compost or mulch a live cut tree instead of putting it out with the trash.

LED holiday lights last about 200,000 hours and use 80% percent less electricity than incandescent lights. Solar Illuminations (http://www.solarilluminations.com) stocks a wide variety of LED lights powered by solar panels.

 

Search for ornaments from antique stores. Think about starting a collection of ornaments. If you're a dog lover, maybe you'd like to collect dog-themed ornaments.

 

Candles are a wonderful way to create  both a festive and romantic mood during the holidays and throughout the year. Rather than burning paraffin candles, try beeswax or soy. Paraffin is produced from oil, so it adds more pollutants to the air.

 

If you celebrate Hanukkah and you don't have a menorah, consider searching for a vintage one at a flea market, thrift shop or antique store. Bring the family along and turn the shopping day into a scavenger hunt. Vintage finds are full of character and are a wonderful way to re-purpose something old. If you've got young children, consider making a menorah by gluing nine bottle caps on 2 x 4 piece of wood. Each child can paint the wood in his or her favorite color and your family can light the menorah year after year. It's a great way to start a family tradition!

 

Many flea markets and thrift stores have interesting options for china. So instead of buying new dinnerware if you'll be entertaining a large crowd for the holidays, buy mismatched plates. Look for plates of different patterns in one color as a way to unify your collection. (If you don't have room to store them, consider donating them after the holidays.)

 

Forget expensive, metallic gift-wrap and use newsprint, old wallpaper or out-of-date subway or highway maps. I love to use maps from National Geographic, which in the 1950s and 1960s contained a pullout map of some faraway place. Another option is a re-usable gift bag.

 

Create holiday menus from 100% locally-grown products. It's a challenging but fun way to plan a feast. Prepare a menu (on recycled paper) that proudly informs your guests of your "buy local," theme.

If you've got a sustainable idea for the holidays, I'd love to hear about it. Please share it with all of us on our Facebook page.