Article Below by our Green Team Chair: Susan Francis
*The Green Team strives to inform and inspire*
A Gift from your Friendly Mother Earth Team
Earth-Friendly Holiday Ideas
That’ll Save You Time and Money
Ah, the dream of happy, peaceful holidays. Oh, the reality of frantic, frenzied buying and wrapping, decorating and dining. That reality can leave us with the need for even more time, support and peace. 

Good news! You really can have both AND help Mother Earth in the process.

This is a guide to getting both you and our planet through the holidays sustainably. Democrats, please, pause and refill your tanks this holiday season. We have a long road ahead to the election of our lifetimes, and you can't go on a journey with empty tanks! Here's a test: how many of you even opened the links to the musical numbers in the email we sent Thursday? Just took a moment to let music soothe your soul or bring a smile to your face? One of the best gifts is mindfulness, learning to be in the here and now and just sloooooow down. It’s how to survive the onslaught of Trumpian madness and chaos. And? Its FREE! 

Here are even more ideas for Greenin' the Season Sustainably: How to Gift, Decorate, Entertain, Send Greetings, and Wrap it all up. 

Scan it if need be (those of you used to text length!) relax and enjoy!
GIFT GIVING
Consider Giving Less “Stuff” –Many of us have an awful lot of “stuff” already which doesn’t support what we really “need.”

If we ask ourselves honestly, most of us find that we need time. A lot more time. Along with more peace, more joy, and a better sense of connection. In the face of the collective crazy stemming from our White House, we want to know that our actions can make a difference.

So let’s all ponder: how do we meet those needs today? When you consider alternative options, you support yourself and the earth, while becoming a role model for others to do the same. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Give a gift of time or service, for example:
  • Massage, salt cave or a stretching class
  • Dinner for two at a favorite restaurant
  • Tickets to a play or movie the recipient may not otherwise get to see

Give Your Own Time
  • Offer to help them clean their den, garage, basement (IF you know they need it!)
  • Have dinner and game night for their kids at your house, while they have a needed date night!
  • Find favorite artists on YouTube and send them a song, a comedy routine or a soothing meditation.  

Give a Gift that will Give to Others So many of these organizations provide a lovely gift certificate to give as a present.
Buy a product that gives:

  • 4Ocean.com makes beautiful bracelets made from recycled ocean waste plastic. Each product pulls a pound of plastic from seas and coastlines, and they work seven days/week.
  • Buy carbon offsets. Terrapass.com will help you assess how much carbon you use as you drive or fly.
  • Adopt an acre of rainforest, a manatee, or other endangered species in the recipient’s name.
  • Adopt a llama, goat, honeybee hive, or other animal through the Heifer Foundation. Donating allows a family in the developing world to create their own farm or business, offering them abundance they may not have dreamed of in a sustainable fashion.
  • Adopt a business through Kiva.com This amazing group allows us to lend as little as $25 to help build a business in countries around the world, creating opportunity that did not exist for countless individuals and countries. The loan gets repaid and can be reinvested. Few gifts provide such a sense of satisfaction!
Buy a Gift Membership in an environmental organization - recipients often get gifts such as reusable bags, along with beautiful magazines year-round, membership discounts on eco-friendly tours, and opportunities to sign petitions that make an impact. Here are just a few organizations that offer such member benefits, and some have their own stores:

Yeah, you can buy stuff, IF they really need it! – if you do buy “stuff,” please ask for wish lists so your gift doesn’t become a dust collector or end up in the dustbin! Find out what they REALLY want, then buy items that will last from environmentally-friendly companies or artisans. 

Other gift-related suggestions
  • Suggest re-gifting: give others a good book, a nice bag or more that you don’t need!
  • Bring your own bags when you shop.
  • Reduce the number of family/group gifts by drawing names from a hat.
  • Try to ensure that purchases are made from sustainable materials or by using sustainable practices. 

Examples:
  • Water purifying and Alkalinizing water filter pitchers (available on Amazon) save countless plastic water bottles.
  • Organic cotton sheets. Cotton is the top user of pesticides and herbicides. You spend more time in bed than anywhere else. You’re bathing your body in toxins if you’re using regular cotton or polyester sheets. Go organic, help yourself, help the earth. Even Target carries these.
  • Similarly, bamboo pillows (bamboo is one of the most sustainable crops) filled with soft, hypoallergenic from made from recycled plastic bottles). Local Home Goods has them.
  • Earth-friendly pet beds made from similar sustainable and organic materials. Animals are usually smaller and don’t live longer, so are even more affected by toxins than we! 
  • Shoes and clothes made from recycled plastic… even Walmart has jeans made from these!
  • Carbon offsets - drive Lyft, fly and drive green, or take the train!
  • Buy rechargeable batteries and a charger to go along with any battery-operated operated gifts.

Getting the idea? Not so bad, right? Okay, then we’re on to: 
HOLIDAY DECORATING
  • Use Candles Made of Beeswax or Soy – or consider the new flameless LED candles and rechargeable batteries
  • Choose real, live trees – they support sustainable farming.
  • Purchase trees in a container - they can be planted in your yard in the spring. Some can live in their containers for several years and be taken outside in the garden as seasons change.
  • Chip and mulch live trees after the holidays – use to mulch the garden. Alternatively, live
  • trees can be picked up by the city for safe disposal.
  • Donate used trees to the zoo – Ask your local zoo whether they will accept donated trees. They are wonderful treats for confined lions, tigers, and bears – oh my!
  • Buy long-lasting artificial trees – If you need to purchase an artificial tree for non-allergenic reasons, please buy one that you will enjoy for many years. These trees CAN’T be recycled and the plastic needles are made from petroleum products. (Think drilling for oil in an Alaskan refuge for plastic products such as these!!!)
  • Avoid the use of plastic, disposable decorations – such as tinsel, garlands, certain ornaments, etc. Instead, choose ornaments that you’ll want to keep forever made from:
  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Paper or 
  • Wood
  • Make your own ornaments – Get family and friends together to string your own garlands from popcorn, cranberries, pine cones. This is a fun, soothing, meditative activity for the whole family AND the results are biodegradable and can be fed to wildlife after the holidays.
  • Turn off Indoor and Outdoor Decorative Lights During Off-Hours – no need to leave lights on overnight. Prime visibility hours are usually from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. 
ENTERTAINING

  • Use Real Plates and Cups for Holiday Entertaining. Get guests to help with clean up! 
  • Buy Paper Disposable Partyware rather than Styrofoam.
  • Serve local and/or Organic and sustainably produced food for treats! Delicious chips and dips can be purchased for only slightly more than regular food at many stores (and less the hidden costs that accompany food not produced organically). Watch out for palm oil in the ingredients! 
CHRISTMAS CARDS and HOLIDAY GREETINGS

  • Email your Holiday Cards! Surrender to the benefits of the electronic age. This is not as impersonal as it sounds. There are many email greeting companies that will allow you to send clever cards for free, as well as websites that you can visit that will contribute money to conservation efforts in return for mailing. Try www.care2.com.
  • Use Holiday Postcards – Lovely holiday postcards save time, paper and postage.
  • Recycle Cards You Receive – Cut off the fronts and mail to St. Jude Ranch who will use the card fronts to make new cards while raising money for abused and neglected children:
  • St. Jude Ranch
  • P.O. Box 60100
  • Boulder City, NV 89006-0100
Doesn’t that feel better? So, to wrap this all up, onto…
WRAPPING
  • Display unwrapped gifts – in our house, Santa NEVER wrapped his gifts. Kids will be just as thrilled seeing them laid out under the tree on Christmas morning (saving elves time and trees lives!)
  • Use Gift Bags and Decorative Boxes Tied with Ribbon – these can be reused over and over again.
  • Use Plain Brown Boxes – decorate with straw ribbon and sprigs of holly for a sleek, elegant look.
  • Buy Recycled Wrapping Paper – If you must wrap, look for recycled wrapping paper.
  • Recycle Your Used Wrapping Paper – Carefully open your gifts so that you can reuse the wrapping paper. Make a game of seeing who can salvage the most gift wrap and reuse it next year!
If we all do one or more of these things, Santa, Chanukah Harry and Mother Earth will put us on the “nice” not “naughty” lists. (Yes – they all have one!)

Democrats, your hard and sincere work towards the election of our lifetimes is the best gift anyone could ever receive. May you enjoy abundant blessings of the season, and may our work in the new year create a sustainable, peaceful world for us all.
Happy Holidays to all!!!
Paid for by the Democratic Party of DuPage County, who continues the Fight for Economic Justice,
Civil Rights and Our Environment within DuPage & Beyond.