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What Can I Do?

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

From Santa's Sustainable Workshop, by Kristin Sterling, '10, Sustainability Intern

Reduce your carbon footprint while traveling

The Holidays mean spending time with friends and family, which usually requires some amount of travel, be it by car, train, or plane. If you're the one traveling, lighten your footprint by opting for public transportation, or purchase carbon offsets if you need to fly. Generally, an option to purchase carbon offsets will be available when booking your flight. If not, other non-profit organizations, such as, offer carbon calculator and off-setting services. If you're the host, do some preemptive research on public transportation routes your visitor's can take, or purchase carbon off-sets for them as a part of their holiday gift!

Reuse your Christmas tree

This year, try reusing your Christmas tree. How, you ask? The "greenest" way to approach Christmas trees is to buy your tree with its roots in tact from a local grower (preferably pesticide free), so that you can return it back to the ground after the holiday season has ended! Opting for a "living tree," will save the tree from being mulched and allow it to continue providing cleaner air. Our City Forst estimates that a tree may live to be over 100 years old and remove almost 2 tons of carbon during its lifespan. Check out the Our City Forest website for details on how to purchase and use a living tree this Christmas. A couple places to consider purchasing live trees from are the Skyline Tree Farm in La Honda and Black Road Christmas Tree Farms.

Recycle your used Christmas tree

If you cant spring for a living tree this year, make sure to responsibly dispose of your tree by recycling it instead of throwing it away. Most cities will collect used trees during regular pick up times during the two weeks following Christmas. Or you can drop off your tree at a local recycling center (usually for little or no charge). If all else fails you can opt for cutting your tree into small pieces to place into your yard waste bin to be collected. There are also various non-profit organizations that can pick up your tree to be recycled, such as the Boy Scouts of America.

Respect your family's (Christmas) wishes!

Unfortunately every year at Christmas time we almost always get at least one or two gifts that we really don't want or need. Respect your loved ones' (Christmas) wishes by utilizing wish lists this year! By using wish lists to do your holiday shopping your helping to eliminate those unwanted, "this is just going to collect dust," types of presents. It may also save you time and/or gas, since you wont need to wander through the mall wondering what to get your cousin-in-law. If you want to take this idea a step further, consider doing a Secret Santa gift exchange with your family this Christmas. These gift exchanges are fun and you may end up saving a lot of money since you will be buying gifts for less people. If you need help organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange, consider using a handy online site, such as This website helps you virtually manage your Secret Santa gift exchange, including wish lists and virtual name drawing! You might also consider spending time, and not money this year. Try gifting an experience rather than a material object. It's thoughtful and has the potential to benefit more than one person. Check out these different ideas and try something new this year!

Tags: Take Action



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