Originally published December 5 2008
Environmentally Conscious Decoration Ideas
by Phoebe Kerr
(NaturalNews) It`s the holiday season and that means it`s time to decorate our homes, offices and businesses; inside and out. In years past it was easy, there were not a lot of options for lights and decorations were decorations (no special knowledge required). These days with the push for people to be more environmentally friendly, conserve energy (if not for climate change purposes then for our pocketbooks) and still show our holiday spirit with wonderfully elaborate light usage and decorations there is much more to consider. On a community level there are choices to be made to help your town center (or social center) save money, energy and still create the wonderful holiday feel they have always had. On a personal level how do you have a holiday decorated like it was when you were a kid that also works with your social and environmental goals? Creating a environmentally conscious holiday display is easier than its ever been and it won`t break the bank!
When it comes to decorating you may find that even cities and towns are doing their part in being more environmentally friendly by choosing to use LED lights and supporting local businesses by purchasing their goods (trees, wreaths, decorations). If you live in an area that has yet to catch on, be part of the solution. Appealing to your town's pocketbook is a good way to start. LED holiday lights cost a fraction of the price of incandescent lights to power. The cost for a string of LED's is a little higher than the incandescent lights but the money you save on your electric bill makes the change worthwhile. A good comparison of the two lights can be viewed on Consumer Reports website ( http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-gard...). If you can't get your town to jump on the band wagon quite yet, start first with your own home and yard; next, work on educating your neighbors. You will be surprised how quickly the idea will catch on.
For your personal decoration choices there are many options outside of whether or not to switch to LED`s. For those of you who will be purchasing a tree for your holiday celebration, be conscious of where you get your tree from. A lot of tree farms use pesticides, check with the farmer on their growing and pest management practices. Try to support a local tree farm instead of purchasing your tree at a box store (these trees are usually shipped in from other areas of the US and Canada and often start dropping their needles quickly; there is also the miles traveled and fuel used to consider). The benefit of cut trees is that they can be shredded and composted or used as mulch after they have served their holiday purpose. If you have children you may want to get a live tree. Decorate your living tree and once it's time to take it down make a family event of planting it in your yard (preferably not right next to the house, remember how big they can get). There is also the option of decorating an outside tree if you are short on space in your house.
An environmentally friendly option of garland for your tree is to use strings of popcorn and cranberries. If your tree is outside with the edible garland on it you will also be providing for the bird life and give your children something interesting and educational to watch. Tying ribbon on your tree is another decorating option that is more sustainable than alternatives like tinsel, spray snow or other decorations. The options are limitless and creating your own decorations is a great way to get your children involved.
When it comes to decorations around the house (other than the tree) consider bringing items from outside into your home. Pine cones are a great option. Bows of local evergreens (or if you have Holly trees) tied with a big red ribbon or weaved into wreaths are wonderful for front doors or windows. If you have wild grape vines you can cut sections of them and weave wreaths for your doors, windows or table centerpiece. Another benefit to using fresh cut evergreens is the pleasant smell left by them which can really kindle the holiday spirit.
Candles are another decoration used avidly during the holiday season (and year round for some). The alternatives to your traditional window/table or Menorah candles include soy and bees wax candles. These types of candles are made from renewable resources (unlike petroleum based paraffin candles) and burn longer and cleaner. Paraffin candles form carcinogens when burned and sometimes have lead containing wicks depending on their quality. They are beautiful whether lit or unlit and are a wonderful accent to centerpieces, window sills, lanters and other decorations. Unscented soy and bees wax based candles are much safer around animals, and children; the unscented soy candles can even be used in households with birds (although it is not advised to burn them near the birds). If opting for scented candles, make sure they are scented with pure essential oils instead of perfume grade oils. Also if you have small children or animals (cats and birds specifically) make sure you are cautious about what scents you get and how strong they are. Birds do not do well with scents and essential oils can be dangerous for cats as well. To get that wonderful holiday aroma in the house, throw a batch of gingerbread cookies in the oven. If you don't eat them, take them to work and let your co-workers enjoy them.
Decorating your home, office or business for the holiday season can be fun and environmentally friendly. Get those creative juices flowing this holiday season and find natural and healthy items around your home to bring inside and decorate with. When the holidays are over there will be less packing up and storing because a lot of them will be able to just be returned to Mother Nature. Having less clutter for the rest of the year promotes a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of decorating this way go beyond helping the environment; you are creating traditions that your children can carry on as well as promoting a much safer and healthier home environment for yourself and your loved ones during the holiday season.
About the authorPhoebe Kerr is a mom, and a writer and researcher in her spare time. Nap time is when she reads and does the homework on whatever class she is taking that month. A majority of her researching pertains to her life experience at that given time. Her extensive knowledge and resources range from animal nutrition to alternative healing modalities such as homeopathy and herbalism to alternative child rearing.
Phoebe has always been drawn to the natural world. Growing up in a rural town in Vermont gave her a deep seated love and respect for nature and the natural world. She attended university for Biology but in 2005 after starting her graduate studies in Agriculture had a large upheaval and her life took a different path. Her father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS resulting in the relocation of her and her partner to be close to his family. That was when her passion for healing the body was ignited. Since that time, her father-in-law has passed, but her desire for knowledge and helping others through education or hands on healing of loved ones had just begun to unfold.
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