Bing Crosby may have dreamed of a white Christmas but as many Americans adjust their lifestyles to become more environmentally friendly, some will be looking forward to a green Christmas this year. Your Better Business Bureau has advice to help families go green this holiday season and maybe even save some green in the process.
According to a survey by Plow and Hearth, half of Americans plan to purchase an environmentally friendly gift this holiday season. Among those going green this year, two-thirds say they are willing to spend between 10 and 25 percent more on green holiday gifts.
“The holidays tend to focus on kindness and sharing, but unfortunately, most of us aren’t very kind to the environment during the season of giving, and from an eco-friendly perspective, this period usually ends up being one of the most wasteful times of the year,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “Consumers actually have a chance to save some green in more ways than one this season, from using candles and wreaths with recycled materials to homemade gifts and creative gift wrap, people can help themselves and the environment.”
Aside from buying gifts with the environment in mind, there are many other ways consumers can lessen the impact of their holiday cheer on Mother Nature. Following are a few ways consumers can aim for a more environmentally friendly holiday season:
Decorate with Care
There are many ways consumers can decorate “in green” this year. LED Christmas tree lights are a pricier option to conventional lights, but they require about 80-90 percent less energy and last much longer—up to 200,000 hours—compared to conventional lights’ 2,000 hours.
Rather than buying an artificial tree or a fresh tree that will end up on the sidewalk come January 1, consumers can opt to buy a live tree that they can later plant. When it comes to decorating that tree, making ornaments and garlands from gingerbread, Christmas cards, popcorn and cranberries is a great family craft project and better for the environment than plastic tinsel and ornaments.
Give Money to a Charity in Someone’s Honor
Charities are expecting a lean season of giving this year as the result of the downturn in the economy. Donating to a charity in a loved one’s name is a great way to further a worthy cause and it doesn’t have any negative impact on the environment. In fact, if the gift goes to a charity that deals in conservation, the gift will have a doubly good impact on the environment. To make sure donations are going to credible, conscientious organizations, donors should always research charities first with BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance – and can do so at www.bbb.org/charity.
Many stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, specialize in green products, such as organic foods and gifts made from recycled goods. When shopping online, consumers should always look for the BBBOnline seal. The seal tells the shopper that the company adheres to BBB Standards for Trust and operates a secure Web site for financial transactions.
For do-it-yourselfers, there are many Web sites and online communities dedicated to making new and useful items from things most consumers consider normal household “clutter.” Skill levels for craft projects range from easy to expert. Homemade gifts, such as baked goods and handmade gifts are also a lot easier on the wallet—and potentially the environment—and often bring much more meaning to recipients.
Dispose of the Old…With Care
Electronics such as cell phones, TVs and computers contain toxic materials that should be disposed of carefully and not just tossed out with the trash. Many companies will take back and recycle their products for free. Some retailers also accept trade-ins. Consumers can search for company policies and recycling locations online, and a good place to start is at Earth911.org.
For more trustworthy consumer advice on “going green” this holiday season, and for many other tips on saving money this year, go to www.bbb.org.