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Staying green for the holidays

Matt Scherr

It’s that time of year again. I should be excited for the holidays, not disgusted. Can you help people understand how destructive our consumerism is?-Michele

Yes. People, we’ve lost the meaning of Christmas. Stop consuming. Now.Alas, Michele, good Christians, pagans, spiritualists and holiday purists the world over can bemoan the selling out of our most spiritual holiday, but that has been done for a century to no avail.Yes, Christmas derives from nature-centered pagan and Roman festivals. Yes, our gift-centric ways are relatively new to Christmas. And yes, Virginia, the Santa Claus we know today was designed by the Coca Cola Company.Neat trivia, but if someone’s going to refuse that grotesquely packaged new widget, the motivation must come from a deeper place.The best revenge (or best example, in this case) is a life well-lived. Practice your own traditional/sustainable Christmas with aplomb and see how it appeals to others. Here are some ideas.Prezzies:Discourage people from buying you a gift for the sake of a gift. Do you really need another decorative salt and pepper set? Make your own … pastry, liqueur, art, card -whatever. Give the gift of an experience – theater or concert tickets, museum membership. Do something for someone – shovel a walk, make dinner, sing carols (really, it’s making a comeback). Shop early to avoid overnight shipping: Air shipping uses more fuel.Lighting:Use LED string lights that use far less power and look really cool. Turn Christmas lights off for sleepy time (your neighbors will thank you). Don’t use so dang many, sheesh. Wrapping:

Reuse wrapping paper you get. Use newspaper, brown paper bags, leftover fabric, magazine ads. Better yet, avoid wrapping altogether with a donation in someone’s name to a nonprofit (like, I dunno…the Eagle Valley Alliance).Christmas Tree:Reducing consumption is the first and most important of the three R’s. Make your own Christmas tree or use a houseplant (c’mon, it worked great in college). Reuse. Buy a potted tree that will survive the holidays and keep on giving. Buy a fake tree if you will use it for years, but beware PVC, a common toxic ingredient in many a faux tannenbaum.Recycle. If you do go for a lot tree or one you’ve cut yourself, make sure it gets mulched and not landfilled when it expires. Call your town to see if they have a collection program. Eagle County will have bins at the Edwards recycling site and the Eagle Vail fire station through January.For lot trees, ask around to see if any are organic. Not likely in our neck of the woods, but it’s worth the ask. If you want to cut your own from National Forest, ask the ranger where you get your permit what his or her personal thoughts are on this practice. They may tell you how you can actually help forest health if you do it right.Holiday Cards:Buy cards made from post-consumer recycled paper. Or better yet, send e-mail or Web greetings – zero fuel used, zero paper used, total happiness.

You may know and do these things and more already, Michele, but there may be some out there who are already motivated as you are and are just looking for some direction. Or maybe they’re just looking to avoid that descent into the ninth Level of Shopping Hell.Have fabulous, sustainable holiday season!Festively,TerraTerra Mater is the alter-ego of Matt Scherr, the resident know-it-all at the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability (eaglevalleyalliance.org). If you have a question about local recycling, sustainability or other such issues, e-mail askterra@eaglevalleyalliance.org.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO


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