Everywhere you look, there are bright, shiny decorations. Strangers walk by mouthing the words to songs that everybody seems to know. Folks are beckoning you to taste this and sample that - it's Christmas shopping time!

Don't wait until you're standing in line at the check out to ponder the guilt you're about to feel as you struggle across the parking lot with all those bags. No, I'm not going to preach about curbing your shopping list. Instead I have a fun excuse you can use to go out and spend - you're saving the planet. That's right, you are hosting a "Green Christmas." (More and more companies are "going green", but that term, in itself, can be subjective. Learn more in Forget Green Stocks, "Green" Will Do.)

Have a sustainable celebration with the following ideas for an eco-friendly holiday:

Edible Wreath
The cook in your life will enjoy an herb wreath made of California thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and chili peppers. Edible wreaths can be found and ordered online, or you could always make your own.

Sustainable Ambiance
Most ornamental holiday candles are made of petroleum-based paraffin wax. Soy wax candles are plant based and therefore more "sustainable." Pure soy wax can't be formed and molded as well as petroleum, so you may find blended candles are best for decorating, but for little aromatic gifts, look for scented soy candles in glass containers.

Reusable Wrap
The $2.7 billion gift wrap business is turning green. Many more companies are offering eco-friendly alternatives, including gift bags made of recycled paper, reusable organic fabric bags, and glass containers you can use long after the holidays. Just look for the familiar recycle triangle on the bottom and, when it finally wears out, shred it into the compose pile or the recycle bin.

Responsible Spirits
Does your bartender recycle glass liqueur bottles? Should you opt for the newly chic wine-in-a-box? When shopping for the perfect beverage to go with the holiday feast, remember that, though wine boxes may be recyclable, it took vast amounts of water to recycle the paper they were made of. Paper breaks down each time it is recycled, while glass can be recycled over and over with little loss of product. It's ok to choose the glass package; just be sure it goes in the recycle bin instead of the land fill.

Ultimate Tree-Hugger Stocking-Stuffer
Give an actual live tree. Order evergreen seedlings for only $3 a piece from the Arbor Day Foundation. The trees come in partially recycled tubes that can be reused as bird feeders.

The best way to have a Green Christmas is to stay informed. Beware of "greenwashing," a tactic marketers use to convince buyers their products are environmentally friendly, when in fact no efforts are made to save the environment. Paula Collins, Principal & Co-Founder of the eco-friendly education organization Our Green Value, advises consumers to ask the following questions of each purchase:

  1. What raw materials were used? Consider the amount of water used and any negative impacts of the manufacturing process.
  2. Who made it? Were the workers in sweatshops?
  3. Where was it made? Were raw materials shipped overseas then finished products shipped back?
  4. What is the impact of using it? Are limited natural resources required to maintain it?
  5. What happens when you're done with it? Can it be reused or the materials recycled?
  6. How much does it cost? Does the price outweigh the benefit?

Conclusion
If you can't readily find the answers to these questions, look for items that are "certified green" by reputable environmental organizations. The ultimate goal is to minimize the mound of landfill bound, non-biodegradable "stuff" left on your curb at the end of the holiday season. So go forth holiday shoppers and claim your title as environmental heroes. (Green investing is the new buzz word for companies and investors, but What Does It Mean To Be Green?.)

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    A Look at Greece’s Messy Fiscal Policy

    Investigate the muddy fiscal policy, tax problems, and inability to institute austerity that created the Greek crises in 2010 and 2015.
  2. Home & Auto

    4 Areas to Consider Roofing Material Types

    Roofing your home is very important, that’s why you should choose a roof specifically designed to handle your area’s climate.
  3. Economics

    How Do Asset Bubbles Cause Recessions?

    Understand how asset bubbles often lead to deep, protracted recessions. Read about historical examples of recessions preceded by asset bubbles.
  4. Investing News

    What Shook the U.S. Stock Market Today?

    What was looking as a decent year for US Stock market has suddenly gone off track as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 531 points in the week ending August 23, 2015.
  5. Professionals

    Why Investors Should Consider Cash Right Now

    With so many market watchers thinking that the current stock rally is getting long in the tooth, investors might considering upping their cash holdings.
  6. Stock Analysis

    How GM Keeps on Truckin'

    Following a giant bailout and a giant IPO, the new GM is carried by sales of its giant trucks. But is it profitable?
  7. Investing News

    Does the Empire State Index Signal a Recession?

    This morning, the New York Federal Reserve Bank reported the worst numbers in six years for its August 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Survey, indicating not only a potential economic slowdown ...
  8. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
  9. Home & Auto

    Looking To Invest In Home Improvements?

    Some home improvement projects could cost you more to complete than they’ll pay out in equity. So, here we show you the worst projects to avoid.
  10. Term

    The Legacy of Basel I

    Basel I refers to a set of international banking rules enacted in 1988 by the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Internal Rate Of Return - IRR

    A metric used in capital budgeting measuring the profitability ...
  2. The New Deal

    A series of domestic programs designed to help the United States ...
  3. Debt Consolidation

    The act of combining several loans or liabilities into one loan. ...
  4. Personal Spending Plan

    Similar to a budget, a personal spending plan helps outline where ...
  5. Global Recession

    An extended period of economic decline around the world. The ...
  6. The Great Recession

    The steep decline in economic activity during the late 2000s, ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does the risk of investing in the industrial sector compare to the broader market?

    There is increased risk when investing in the industrial sector compared to the broader market due to high debt loads and ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can I hedge my portfolio to protect from a decline in the retail sector?

    The retail sector provides growth investors with a great opportunity for better-than-average gains during periods of market ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the correlation between term structure of interest rates and recessions?

    There is no question that interest rates have enormous macroeconomic importance. Many economists and analysts believe the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!