Artificial Christmas trees shipped in from China are made of petroleum-based chemicals -- many even contain lead. Instead, bring a potted evergreen indoors to decorate, then place it outside after the holidays. Also, an organically grown cut tree will spare your family the pesticides and chemicals that douse many conventional trees (find an organic grower at Local Harvest). Remember, any cut tree can be "treecycled" into mulch or compost.More »
2. Recycled Wrapping Paper
The amount of household garbage in the U.S. increases by about onemillion tons between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and much of that is packaging. There are lots of wrappingpapers and ribbons that are made of 100 percent recycled waste, and giftbags are a great reusable option. If you’re feeling creative, thinkoutside the box you’re wrapping: You can use old maps, comics,magazines, wallpaper, Christmas cards, crossword puzzles, posters, sheetmusic, even towels and napkins to wrap a gift.
Christmas lights really make the season bright. But older incandescent light bulbs use a surprising amount of energy, and because they run hot, they can be a fire hazard if they come into contact with wrapping paper or dry pine needles. Newer LED lights use just 10 percent of the energy of older incandescent bulbs, and because they run cooler they’re also a bit safer. And newer LED lights can be used both indoors and out.More »
4. Christmas CandlesIf candlelight is more your design look, opt for soy or beeswax candles, which, though a bit more expensive, don’t contain the petroleum-based paraffin found in conventional candles. Also, make sure all candles have wicks that don’t contain lead -- you'll be able to see a thin lead wire in the wick.
5. Christmas Cards
Just a few holiday greeting cards multiplied by millions of envelopes and cards and stamps, and you’re talking about a vast ocean of paper. Email greetings use no paper at all, and a telephone call might be an even more personable way to say "Happy Holidays!" If you do opt for greeting cards, try making your own as a holiday project for the kids. If you buy cards, look for cards that use soy-based inks, are made of recycled material, and are recyclable. And old cards can be reused in a number of clever ways; as gift tags, tree ornaments or wrapping paper.