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Originally published December 19 2014

5 ways to help protect the earth this holiday season

by Julie Wilson staff writer

(NaturalNews) An expanding population combined with careless overconsumption is a recipe for disaster. As of right now, we only have one planet to live on, and if we as a species don't start making changes immediately, we could all be doomed.

It's pretty clear that the planet needs your help. It has given us life, and a natural, nurturing environment designed for us to flourish, so the least we can do is be mindful of our choices in regard to consumption.

With organic food sales soaring worldwide, good health and sustainable farming has progressed beyond being trendy and is now at the forefront of people's minds everywhere.

Lucky for you, now is a perfect time to start making better choices, and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Living green isn't as difficult as you might think. If everyone made just a few changes, our planet's future outlook would be much more hopeful than the grim perspective we have now.

With the holidays come a whole bunch of tasks and activities that we don't normally carry out during the rest of the year; it's basically our lives on steroids. Cooking large meals, entertaining, gift-wrapping, traveling and shopping all amount to tremendous overconsumption, resulting in increased energy costs, carbon footprints and waste production.

Americans generate an average 25 percent more trash from Thanksgiving to New Years than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or 1 million extra tons per week, according to Stanford University. Considering that we already have more trash than we know what to do with, this extra 25 percent is completely careless, destructive and preventable.

Below are a few easy things that you can do this holiday season to help save the planet.

1. Recycle gift wrap

Tissue paper, gift wrap, boxes and bows all amount to a lot of unnecessary trash around the holidays. To avoid the extra pileup, try reusing boxes and wrapping paper from last year, recycling gift bags and bows that were given to you previously. Maybe try making use of the newspaper lying around your home and wrap gifts with it. Not many people do this, which makes it a unique and eco-friendly way to present gifts.

If every American reused gift-wrapping materials for just three presents, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields!

2. Share your knowledge of green living

One of my favorite things to do is buy people gifts that I personally love that are chemical-free and derived from sustainable practices. If you love it, there's a good chance that they will too. It could be fluoride-free toothpaste made of natural herbs and oils, GMO-free facial products like Dr. Bronner's, or even an organic produce basket. Top the gift off with a note explaining the benefits of chemical-free, eco-friendly products and pass that knowledge on!

3. Purchase a live tree

By purchasing a live tree with a rootball, you can try to replant it, or recycle it into mulch, as most communities now have mulching programs. Recycled Christmas trees can make great barriers for soil and sand erosion along lake and river shorelines. They can also be used as fish feeders (an excellent spot for them to take refuge), bird feeders or a sanctuary in the backyard, and when shredded can even make a great path for hiking trails.

4. Use locally grown foods

If you're cooking up a storm this year, make sure to purchase organic, locally grown vegetables and antibiotic- and hormone-free meat, eggs and dairy. By doing so, you're supporting sustainable farming practices, as well as reducing the carbon footprint from shipping conventional food long distances. Also, make sure to have a plan for repurposing leftovers.

5. Refill water bottles

It's likely that you'll have guests over this holiday season, which means you'll be using a lot of drinking water. Avoid buying bottled water and try refilling your 5- or 10-gallon jugs instead. Only an estimated one out of five water bottles make it to the recycling bin, causing landfills to overflow with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone, according to


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