Green decorating for the holidays is an idea that can mean many different things to many different people.
For Jodi Klusacek, going green for Christmas means saving green while rekindling fond family memories and working to leave an eco-friendly footprint on the environment.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what I’ve done most all of my life,” she said. “I don’t know if it started with my grandparents, who went through the depression and my mom was young. So, we always were thrifty with things.
“And I have a love for nature. So, it just kind of seemed to go hand-in-hand to not be wasteful and to keep things nice by reusing things and not causing more pollution when you don’t need to.”
To that end, Klusacek has prepared a Green Tips Checklist she is sharing with friends and clients for the holidays:
1. Go LED. Instead of incandescent lights, she recommends using LED lights for holiday decorations. She said LED lights would save on electricity charges and last longer. And she recommends calculating how much you can save by clicking on this Holiday Lights Calculator.
2. Turn out the lights, the party is over. Use timers to turn your holiday lights on and off. Don’t let lights burn during overnight hours when nobody is awake to enjoy them.
3. Go retro. For your holiday parties, bring out grandma’s china and the “good” silver, tablecloths and napkins. Use washable plates instead of disposables.
“Really, most of the china can go in the dishwasher the way dishwashers are made these days,” Klusacek said. “You get to eat in elegance and you cut down on unnecessary waste.
"I use a tablecloth from my grandmother. I have silverware from my mom and grandma—the dishes are from the other grandma. And they’re all gone now. So, I’m able to relive memories that I had with them. I does make it more special.”
1. Let your fingers do the shopping. Klusacek suggests shopping online. Leave your car in the garage and you won’t have to fill the gasoline tank.
2. Bring you own bags on holiday shopping sprees. Many people use their own bags at grocery stores. Why not in department stores?
“You think, ‘OK, I’ve got my grocery routine going,” Klusacek said. “But all of sudden with the holidays, we’re just frantic. It’s as simple as making a little note in your mind.
"Grab a couple of larger bags and even some of your old Christmas bags that are decorative. Put them in the car and use those instead of plastic bags.
“Plastic—it takes a lot of energy to create and, then, it doesn’t biodegrade. It ends up caught in the trees and the fences—and in our oceans. If we don’t have to use as much, it’s better to just not.”
3. Watch packaging. Klusacek suggests buying gifts that are pre-wrapped or have little or no packaging. Think of recycling opportunities.
4. Batteries required? Klusacek said it’s important to be conscious when buying gifts that require batteries. Ask yourself, “Does this item accept rechargeable batteries?” Also, be aware that regular alkaline batteries can be recycled.
To find a recycling center near your home, Klusacek suggests going to Earth911.com and typing your zip code into the search field. Or avoid the battery issue altogether by picking an alternative gift item.
“You might want to make it a more low-tech purchase,” Klusacek said.
5. Be sensible. Klusacek urges you not to get caught up in the “buying just to buy” frenzy. Instead, plan your gift giving to match the personalities of your “giftees” and think along the lines of gift cards, movie, museum, zoo or concert tickets.
6. Make gifts. Klusacek said homemade gifts such as cookies, fudge, truffles and caramel corn always are favorites. She recommends turning the Friday nights leading up to Christmas into family fun/activity nights.
Klusacek said one way to accomplish this is to start by assembling “goodie” jars with layers of dry ingredients and attaching recipe cards for finishing cookies or Christmas pancakes. Decorate the jars with bows or ribbons.
“Know the person you’re giving the gift to,” she said. “You’re not going to give some cookies to slick Uncle Joe who is all ‘techie’ but Aunt Martha might really enjoy that.”
7. Cut down on wrapping. Klusacek suggests using new towels, scarves, bandanas and cloth napkins to wrap items. Tie them with reusable ribbons.
She also recommends “wrapping” gifts in tins or boxes that you’ve collected over the years. If necessary, hit old tins with a coat of low-VCO spray paint. This will bring them back to life.
1. What should you do with your spent Christmas tree? If your community does not have a collection plan in place, then why not put your tree out in the yard to provide shelter for wildlife? Or, if you can, find a neighbor with a wood chipper to make mulch.
2. What can you do with all the wrappings from the season? Save and reuse ribbons, bows, gift bags, tissue paper, boxes and wrapping paper. Recycle paper items that are worn or tattered.
COMING SATURDAY: Log on at 6 a.m. and Watch: Make Your Own Holiday Memories.