Saturday, October 27, 2007

Greening the Holidays

I've long been guilty of going all out, full tilt insane during the holidays. I used to love the lights, the gifts, the consumer craziness of it all. Becoming more ecologically aware, however, has made me more aware of the resources we are wasting in doing this. It has also put me in touch with my "simple" side - as in simple living. I realize that what I remember about holidays is often fun with family, events, things that happened or that we did. It is very rarely anything material. For instance, I cannot for the life of me remember most of the gifts I gave last year for Christmas or any of the gifts I received.

I haven't yet figured out how I'll approach the lights and decorations for Christmas this year. It used to break my heart to think of a lack of Christmas lights twinkling around our little abode at night or getting rid of the giant inflatable decorations which are all the rage now. Halloween has been somewhat of a sustainable success though and that gives me hope for the rest of the holidays.

Halloween is upon us and I've made many a green change here. I've freecycled all electric decorations except for a plug in light to use as a night light for each of my kids. That may not sound like a big change, but trust me, it is! I got rid of most of the things piecemeal, thinking I'd only hang up some and then I just kept cutting back. I thought I'd miss my electric decor but in all honesty I haven't even thought about it. I reused our Halloween non-electric decorations from years past and put up the kids' art work and it looks plenty festive! Plus, the kids are so proud of their contributions. Maybe we'll be able to survive Christmas with no outdoor lights. Or maybe I'll swallow my compact-guilt and buy a couple new strands of LED lights.

I've had a few other green Halloween successes. My youngest is going to wear that same costume again this year that he wore last year. I tried to get the oldest to use a hand-me-down costume but no go. It just had to be C3PO and he even asked to earn it (we have a sticker reward system). Making one would have entailed quite a bit of environmental impact what with the mask and the gold fabric. Good luck finding a used C3PO costume! So new it was. I'm pretty pleased though as that was our only new expenditure.

As for candy, we live in "Mayberry" and get hundreds of trick-or-treaters. I figured the best thing I could come up this year was to buy a single big candy bar (I usually give a handful of smaller ones) to cut back on packaging. Maybe next year, I'll come up with some sustainably grown chocolate or better yet, some nickels and dimes (literally). For now, step right up and get your Hershey's bar and please, please, please, do NOT throw the wrapper on my new sheet mulch.

Happy Halloween!

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