Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! (Photo credit: Kelvin Servigon)

The Christmas season is in full swing, and we here at LGBG wanted to weigh in with some helpful tips in planning a really green Christmas.  We feel that it is important to address the topic  of a green Christmas because so often in this age of mass consumerism, we witness the holiday season losing its true meaning and getting buried under an avalanche of all types of excess, ranging from uncontrolled spending, overindulgence in food and beverages, and even careless disregard of established principles of green living habits, thereby sabotaging all the advances we previously made and all in the name of a happy holiday.  These negative actions can lead to feelings of guilt, remorse, anger and depression once the holidays are over.

The first step in planning a really green Christmas is to ignore the lure of television, Internet and email advertising that encourage extravagance at all costs and entices us to run out to the malls or to log on and get the deal of the day.  After all, Christmastime is a monumental merchandising opportunity, and retail businesses want to secure their “numbers” as early in the season as possible.  To that end, it is important that we resist the urge to feel that we are letting the best deal get away or to buy impulsively without doing the necessary homework to really find the best buy.

A great way to guarantee an affordable and really green Christmas is to start with a realistic budget to make sure you know exactly how much money is available for holiday spending.  This budget should include everything for the holiday, such as gifts, decorations, meals, activities and travel expenses, particularly if a trip is part of the holiday plan.  Make sure that all regular financial obligations are covered first.  You will not feel happy or merry when the New Year arrives if you missed December’s bill payments.  Also, consider this budget approach as an opportune time to set up a Christmas savings account to routinely and painlessly save for next year’s holiday.

Once the budget is finalized, the next step is to make a gift list, noting each person who will receive a present and allocating a dollar amount for each individual.  This function really is the heart of a green Christmas.  Whether your holiday tradition is religious or secular, the task of devising a gift list takes you back to the true meaning of the season.  With each name listed, you can reflect on that individual and decide on a gift that shows that person that you appreciate him or her and your present represents something that you feel he or she would enjoy.  Here you will find that the gift is not about money, and it does dot have to be expensive.  Rather it is about an emotional connection.  It could be a homemade gift, a special dish, a picture, a donation to a cause important to the person or a commitment to spend time in some particular activity at a later date.  This truly is green because it is about investing in each other or social capitalism.  It is a wonderful way to invest in the ownership of experiences as opposed to the ownership of “stuff.”

Now you are ready to shop.  Make sure you compare prices for retail gifts on the computer or through paper advertising prior to going out to shop so that you do not waste time and gas going to different stores.  Also, note that if you have the store list and pricing of articles that you want to buy, many brick and mortar establishments will give you the lowest price.  This practice developed in response to savvy shoppers doing their homework before going out, but who want to physically inspect an item before purchase.  Some stores feel it is best to secure the sale while the person is standing there, ready to purchase.  That being said, make sure you retain receipts and also that you are informed of store return policies, refunds, final sales notices, etc.  Sometimes you will be surprised to find further price reductions on items already purchased in the final days before Christmas that present the opportunity to save even more money.

Green Xmas

Green Xmas (Photo credit: nhi.dang)

Decorations are a major aspect of the Christmas season, and here green practices can make a really big difference.  While natural trees, wreaths and roping are better than artificial selections that often are made from petroleum and other toxic ingredients, it is important to be wary of having natural greenery inside the home, particularly in instances where family members have allergies.  Also, if you insist on having a natural tree, keep in mind that cutting down a tree is green and sustainable only if the tree is harvested from a forest or farm created for that purpose.  Additionally, check to ensure that any Christmas tree farm that you consider is managed in an eco-friendly fashion, specifically without the use of industrial chemicals.  An alternative option is to use a living tree.  When decorating your Christmas tree or your home, please avoid cheap dollar store decorations.  Cheap decorations have a high environmental impact, and they also contribute to household clutter in terms of storage.  To have a green Christmas, think simple, healthy, effective and elegant when decorating.

Christmas lighting is one of the highlights of the season.  Think green here and use LED lights to reduce the electricity burden.  Be very careful with candles to avoid fires.  Turn all lights off at bedtime or better yet, put indoor and outdoor lights on timers.  Another option for outdoor lights is the use of solar lights, a big energy saver.

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio is the site of t...

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio is the site of this Christmas display with over 3.5 million lights. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, to really have a green Christmas, invest in yourself and your loved ones.  Take the time to sort out relaxing activities that bring the family together.  Take advantage of free community events, such as tree lightings, caroling, school plays and holiday concerts.  Prepare wholesome, healthy meals, taking care to avoid overindulgence in unhealthy sweets, saturated fats or alcohol.  Try using ingredients with properties that help your body to reduce stress. [3]  Also, this is a great time to support local merchants to find the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Christmastime can be a wonderful, magical experience for you and your family, and it also is a great time to recommit to a green, sustainable lifestyle.  As you plan your Christmas celebrations, we hope that you embrace the season from a green perspective and enjoy a really green Christmas.  To do so is to live green, be green.




While the holiday toast traditionally has been regarded as a symbolic gesture, evidence now indicates that it is much more than that.  In fact, it provides some protection from bacterial infections, such as salmonella and Listeria.  Generally, no winter holiday celebration from Thanksgiving to Christmas is complete without a celebratory toast with guests raising their toasting glasses filled with favorite spirits in salute to the health, wealth and happiness of family and friends.  Little did we know that by doing this, we were adding a degree of protection to our bodies from pathogens ingested at holiday meals that include many spices and a significant amount of poultry, particularly turkey, which is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinners.

Poultry Problems
We all are aware of the need to handle poultry very carefully in all phases of preparation, from the processes of thawing to cooking and storing.  However, the problems with turkeys are much deeper than that and actually begin with the manner in which they are farmed.  Industrial turkey farms keep the birds in close quarters, with their upper beaks snipped off, preventing them from eating what they want (natural omnivores).  Additionally, they are fed a steady diet of corn-based grain with antibiotics to accomplish the weight gain needed for sale to the public. Also, turkeys are subjected to large amounts of pesticides to control and inhibit the spread of disease.  By the time the turkey arrives at our dinner tables, they are battle-scarred, weary and subject to disease.  We do our best to control this situation in the preparation of these birds, but sometimes food poisoning does occur and is often mistakened for stomach flu, which typically occurs during the winter seasons.

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for ...

English: Oven roasted turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)








Contaminated Spices Taint The Holiday Season

Another problem noted particular during the winter holiday season is contaminated spices.  This is the time of year when rely heavily on spices for special entrees and desserts.  A study recently released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals that 12% of imported spices are contaminated with salmonella, “insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs and other things.”  The report concludes that the spices generally are imported from countries “like Mexico and India” and that the contamination occurs during the shipping storage phases, rather than during the harvesting phase.

Indian spices

Indian spices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)














Benefits of Alcohol

The benefits of alcohol in moderation are well noted and include reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, arthritis, enlarged prostate, dementia and several major cancers.  The use of alcohol can be traced back to the Stone Age.  It has played an important role in religion and worship, as well as in medicine, largely due to its antiseptic and analgesic purposes.  Alcohol serves well as a social lubricant, and it has been known to increase the pleasure of eating.

While the abuse of alcohol is widely known, so are the benefits.  With the current issues facing the food supply, ranging from food integrity and degradation during transportation and storage, problems arising from factory farming, use of GMOs, contamination and lack of oversight of imported foods, we  must be very careful about what we eat.  The holidays afford us all an opportunity to celebrate life, health and happiness.  A toast with our favorite spirits gives us the opportunity to relax and celebrate, while at the same time possibly reducing our risks of illness from food poisoning.











We here at LGBG wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that tomorrow you raise your glass in a toast to life, the earth, the environment, family and friends.  To do is to live green, be green!

A Toast To Thanksgiving
May our gratitude lead to action:  May we express our gratitude.  May we smile when we encounter each other on the path, may we seek opportunities to share our talents with others, may we express our love to one another, may we give no expectation of receiving.  May we seek to repair what is broken.  May we end each day counting the day’s blessings, those we have received and those we have bestowed.  May we be a blessing.”  — Rabbi Maralee Gordon

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English: Used paper is collected for paper rec...

English: Used paper is collected for paper recycling in Ponte a Serraglio near Bagni di Lucca, Italy Deutsch: Altpapier auf einem Recyclinghof in Ponte a Serraglio bei Bagni di Lucca, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the stress, hustle and bustle of the holiday season makes it difficult to stay focused on green living, especially as it pertains to gift wrapping items, we at LGBG want our readers to know that eco-friendly gift wrapping materials are available.  This alternative will go a long way to make us all feel better about that heap of discarded wrapping paper, cards and gift tags that we see every Christmas morning.

There are a number of companies that make paper products from recycled materials that deserve to be mentioned.

  • Of The Earth makes paper products from “at least 50% recycled content from fibers derived from the Himalayan lotka bush“.  The products from this company are available in solid and festive patterns  The fibers in these papers are strong enough to make the paper reusable.  The paper products from Of The Earth are extra special because their holiday selections are embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted in the spring.  Of The Earth also offers sustainable ribbons with beautiful designs that enhance any gift.
  • Fish Lips Paper Designs sells holiday gift wrap made from at least 50% recycled paper.  This paper is printed with soy-based inks and hosts a smooth satin finish.  This company touts that its paper “will make even the worst gift look fun and exciting”.
  • Botanical Paperworks delivers paper products made with recycled paper, also with embedded wildflower seeds.  Your gifts delivered with this company’s cards and tags are special because “they just keep on giving”.
  • Lucky Crow Gift Bags is a leader in the growing trend of fabric gift bags.  These colorful sacks can be used for storage, display or they can be regifted.
  • These alternatives to traditional paper gift products offer a great way to protect the environment.  With all of these suggestions, we can have beautifully wrapped gifts without destroying trees.  This definitely is a way to celebrate the season while protecting the environment, which helps us live green, be green.

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For good news Monday, we have tips for getting the best Christmas tree and keeping it fresh and healthy throughout the holiday season.

For beginnings, the best trees are live trees, not artificial ones, because the latter often are imported and contain toxic materials, such as lead.  If possible, try to purchase a tree from a local tree farm.  This will guarantee the freshness of your tree.  Also, buying local reduces transportation and shipping costs, along with reducing carbon emissions.  An excellent website to find local businesses for family farms and organic products is

When purchasing a precut tree from a nursery or local group, such as the Scouts or churches, inquire about the freshness of the trees as well as the location

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States.

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

which they were shipped.  When inspecting trees for purchase, check the needles to ensure that they are flexible and not dry.

Once you have selected a tree, it is important that you get it home and in water as soon as possible.  Try to select a place for display that is out of direct sunlight and away from fans, heaters, or humidifiers in order to avoid drying out prematurely.  Decorate with inflammable, nontoxic ornaments  and LED lights, which burn much cooler than incandescent lights.  Once the holiday season is over, please check local community directories for programs that collect trees for mulch.

Let’s make getting a Christmas tree and decorating it a green family activity.  Have a Merry Green Christmas and live green, be green.