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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ready, Set, SHOP! Buying Green for the Holidays

James Stevenson, Pinellas County Extension Specialist, Urban Sustainability
Welcome to the "12 Days of Green" this hooliday season. Our first is a three-part installment that will hopefully help you in making decisions when composing your holiday shopping lists.

Green Products
Holiday green. Holiday greenery. Greenbacks. Have you got “green-fatigue” already? Well, try to relax and we will help you not get overwhelmed by all the choices to be made in looking for and purchasing green products. Remember Vestina Crayton’s article on “Greenwashing,” and the tips offered in previous posts.

What purchases increase during the holidays? What green options are available?

We’ll cover gifts in later posts, but just think of what purchases increase during the winter holidays: Extra food, decorations, cards, and the fuel used to zoom around making these extra purchases all add up. Green choices will help reduce the strain on the wallet, and in turn may benefit the environment.

Food: What is “green food?” Not just veggies! When making choices about holiday meals, treats, snacks, etc., consider the source of the ingredients. You may want to purchase organics in an effort to satisfy “green guilt,” but as Jan Wade-Miller points out in Timely Topics: “On average, fresh produce in the United States travels anywhere from 1,300 to 2,000 miles from the farmer to the consumer -- a process that creates enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses. These food miles partially cancel the benefits of organic farming.” Buying locally grown produce has an immediate environmental benefit.

Decorations: Again, consider gussying-up your home this holiday with recycled items. Many thrift stores keep re-usable decorations ready for sale during this time of year. No sense in importing MORE plastic from overseas if there are suitable baubles already here! Consider supporting local green-grocers who often offer greenery, plants and flowers sourced much more locally than the big retailers. Supporting local business is great for our economy.

Cards: The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year n the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we'd save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. (Use Less Stuff) Consider sending an electronic card. The following are some examples of what is available on the internet:
American Greetings
Yahoo Greeting Cards

Finally, as with the rest of the year, plan your trips wisely. Jetting out the door for one cup of sugar wastes your valuable time as well as precious petroleum! Relax and plan your shopping trips to avoid unnecessary travel.


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