Don’t give the Earth a blue Christmas

When you’re preparing for the holidays this year, don’t get yourself on the naughty list. With careful planning, you can give gifts that keep on giving — not just to the recipient, but to the environment as well.

Let’s start with your holiday cards. Choose greetings made from recycled stock that are printed with vegetable-based inks. Before you buy from a chain store, check out some of the local gift shops. Chances are you can find greeting cards made by local artists – this gives the gift of a boost to your local economy.

While you’re at it, see if you can source your gifts at those local shops, as well. You can also check out a farmers’ market to see if you can find locally produced foods, such as cheese, fruits, and baked goods.

Skip the battery-powered gifts this year, too. The Environmental Protection Agency says about 40% of all battery sales occur over the holiday season. Those batteries usually end up in the waste stream – even if they’re rechargeable. Instead, why not opt for a puzzle, book or handmade toy?

When it’s time to wrap, opt for something a little different – like the comics pages from a newspaper, or paper that your kids have decorated themselves. Another great option is to reuse wrapping paper, instead of throwing it out as soon as a gift is opened. The same goes for ribbons and bows, too.

Get a live tree instead of a cut tree or an artificial one. Artificial trees are often created overseas using numerous toxins, including lead and PVC. Trees made in the U.S. are a somewhat better choice. The best bet, however, is a live, potted tree that can be replanted after the holidays are over.

If you’re stringing up lights this year, opt for smaller, LED displays, and make sure they’re lead-free, too. Your wallet won’t be the only thing thanking you.

Finally, decorate for the birds and squirrels, too. Choose a tree in your yard and hang seed trays, seed bells, suet bricks, pine cones smeared with peanut butter or suet. You’ll get the gift of colorful critters flitting around your back yard.