Red and green may be the traditional colors of the upcoming holidays, but eco-friendly green is the best way to celebrate while protecting the delicate resources of our earth. Here are a few ideas to enjoy the season without a feeling of guilt.

1. Buy LED. If you still are using the strands of lights of yesteryear, it’s time to switch on the LEDs. There are now many options, warm and cool colors and multi-strands as well. There will be no fear of the electric bill in January because LEDs are about 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But even with that savings, still use a timer so they are on a cycle for additional savings. And go one step further, and be sure to recycle – don’t toss – your old light strings. Akard’s True Value in Boone Village will accept your old strings for recycling.

2. Send E-Cards. OK, maybe your great aunt still needs to have one sent by mail (for a cost of several dollars, plus postage, not to mention the carbon emissions from the USPS truck.) But for only five bucks, you can send all the e-cards you wish from Hallmark, American Greetings, Blue Mountain or Jacquie Lawson online. All this and more with no guilt for chopping down trees and sending trucks around the country spewing toxic pollution into the air. Five bucks gets you a month’s access (only $20 per year). You can’t walk out of the post office with stamps for that little! Added bonus, you can sit at your computer any hour with a glass of whatever pleases you and send your greetings. Save money, save the planet!

3. Shop local. Although the push to shop online is constant, remember that locally made handcrafted items are far greener choices than items made in China and shipped across the world. Money spent in locally owned specialty shops keeps money within the community. Zionsville’s many privately owned boutiques and restaurants continue to thrive and remain open because customers appreciate their unique value. Supporting “local” is as sustainable as you can get.

4. Go live! For your holiday tree, that is. If you already own an artificial tree, use it. But if you are deciding which way to go, choose green and go live. Buy a tree from many of the locally sourced tree farms in Central Indiana. This not only supports local farms and businesses but also reduces the carbon footprint of trees brought in from North Carolina, Michigan or Wisconsin. Better yet, make a real memory by visiting a tree farm to choose or cut your own tree. It’s a great family activity that will remain a memory for years. Dull’s Tree Farm is located in Boone County and there are other farms nearby. Visit indianachristmastree.com for more info. Another plus, you can’t beat the smells of a live Christmas tree.

5. Avoid “fragrance.” Most holiday “fragrances” are made of chemicals which often including formaldehyde, styrene and phthalates. These chemicals, in high concentrations, can trigger asthma attacks, eye and nose irritation, headaches, dizziness and even memory impairment. Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) are chemicals used to make the artificial scent last longer. They are categorized as hormone-disrupters, linked to early puberty in girls, reduced sperm count in men, and reproductive defects in the male fetus. Known as the “fragrance loophole,” more than 3,000 products including toxic chemicals can be added as “fragrance” to your air freshener, perfume, cosmetics and even cleaning supplies. Because there are no laws governing transparency in fragrances, companies are not required to list what’s in their products. It’s hard to believe that something we use to soothe and delight us can make us so sick. Choose products that contain “essential oils” rather than fragrance or fragrance oils. Essential oils are not chemical parodies, but the natural aromatic essence of the flower, leaves, bark, roots or other parts of plants, such as pine, cedar and cinnamon.

Wishing you a very green holiday.

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