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Weis: A Greener Christmas

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Let’s start with the “real vs. fake Christmas tree” debate. Turns out, real trees are the better bet. That’s because artificial ones are usually made with PVC, a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic.

What’s more, 85% of the fake trees sold in North America are manufactured in China, so they use lots of fossil fuel to get here. Even worse, producing PVCs generates carcinogens.

And fake trees can also shed lead-laced dust. So I’ll definitely stick with the natural alternative.

Once I’ve trimmed my tree, I’ll turn off its lights during the day. In fact, I’ll unplug all my indoor holiday lights before going to bed, and then plug ’em back in the next evening. This not only saves energy, but my lights will last longer, too.

Here’s an enlightening fact: LED lights use up to 95% less energy than conventional bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. And even if one burns out, the rest of the strand will stay lit.

So when buying outdoor lights, it’s smart to look for the new solar LED strings now available. After all, saving electricity during this season of giving would benefit everyone.

According to the EPA, the amount of household trash in the US can increase by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. So I’d like to see all of us cut back on our consumption this year, since even small sacrifices can really add up.

When I shop, I choose gifts made with recycled content and without much packaging. Also, I look for “reused” products, like toys made from scrap wood or swings made from used tires. And I try to practice battery-free shopping, since a whopping 40% of all battery sales occur during the holidays and discarded batteries are a big environmental hazard.

I always bring along reusable cloth bags for all my purchases. And once I get those gifts home, I wrap them in recycled or reused paper. Also, after the festivities, I save or recycle all our wrapping paper.

Finally, this Christmas I’ll be keeping in mind people who are really making sacrifices for the sake of the Earth. Like the activists recently arrested by the Russians for attempting to stop sea-based oil rig drilling as part of Greenpeace’s “Save the Arctic” campaign.

The arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. “The ice is retreating,” Greenpeace explains, “and…companies are moving north to drill for the same stuff that's driving that melting in the first place. It’s madness.”

Greenpeace’s activists are now each facing seven or more years in jail if convicted. But I think even Santa Claus himself might appreciate this effort to preserve what is after all… the North Pole!

So I’ve already contributed to Greenpeace, and sometime during this holiday season I’ll contribute to one or two other organizations dedicated to environmental causes I support.

And whatever holiday we celebrate, I hope each of us will try to make our holiday season just a little greener this year!