The Top 10 Ways to Celebrate “Green” Holidays This Year
We don't necessarily verbalize these, but parents often have simple goals for the holiday season: Have fun as a family, and don't let the holidays create a lot of extra work and stress.
This year, let's get a little crazy and throw another goal into the mix: Reduce the environmental impact of the holidays. We know we need to, and what's cool about this goal is that it complements the others. Check out these 10 easy strategies:
1. Let the kids call the shots. Okay, not all the shots. You can't have the inmates run the asylum, as the saying goes. But get your children involved, if they're old enough and are receptive to the idea. Describe to them what would help the planet – less stuff, less waste, fewer toxins, less energy use – and ask for their input on what your family can do during the holidays. You might be surprised when they propose more ambitious ideas than what you had in mind. By the way, make sure you have full support on this, and any green-holiday plans, from your partner and co-parent.
2. Create. In this age of YouTube videos and zillions of crafts websites, making gifts and decorations with the kids has never been easier. Start as early in the season as you can. Many children really enjoy this. Making decorations is usually easier than making gifts, and younger children can participate.
3. Spend less money on "stuff" gifts. Keep track, and just do this. The kids might not even notice. In our shopping-crazed culture, it's now much easier to spend money than to not spend money. But not spending is still not that hard, if you set your mind to it.
4. Put your money where your heart is. Take that money you saved from not buying stuff and convert it into donations. Local food banks, toy drives, homeless shelters, animal rescues and more, all need extra support this time of year. Discuss your family's priorities with the kids and get their thoughts on where your donations should go.
5. Undrive. One of the least green things we do for the holidays is driving around more than we normally do. This year, how about setting aside a family car-free day or two, on a weekend or during school vacation?
6. Focus on food. "Eating as local as you can and teaching your kids about where their holiday meal came from is really powerful," says Seattle mom Amanda Godwin. It could be as simple as "taking them to the farmers market to pick out the potatoes, and talking to the farmer that grew them," she adds.
7. Get out. Among all the fantastic outdoor holiday activities available in our area, choose ones that are easiest for you and don't involve hours in the car. Here's a smattering: The Christmas ships in various communities (free when watching from the beach); the Figgy Pudding street-corner caroling competition in downtown Seattle (watch or participate); community tree-lighting ceremonies; or simply walking or biking around your neighborhood to look at light displays.
8. Volunteer as a family. You could help a half-day at a food bank, for example. Make sure your kids and partner are really up for this though (not just in your dreams).
9. Spread the joy. Christmas is where much of the waste and resource consumption is, but we can easily find ways to make all our holidays greener, especially those holidays that involve lots of gift giving or eating. Just as an example, a Green Ramadan movement has blossomed in Seattle and elsewhere.
10. Normalize it. Make environmental consciousness an automatic and ongoing part of your holiday celebrations, for gift-giving, parties and decorations. Set an example yourself, and kids will soon get in the mindset that, "This is just what our family does." Have fun, and happy holidays!
For more helpful tips, visit King County's Green Holidays website at www.KCgreenholidays.com.