Yes, Virginia, you can have a green Christmas! The holidays can make even the most dedicated eco-conscious soul quail, what with all the wrapping and cards and such. Anna Getty's beautiful new book, I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas (Chronicle, 2009), comes to the rescue with eco-friendly gift ideas, decorations, and recipes that, as the subtitle says, "use less and mean more." Give this book to anyone on your list who wants a kinder, simpler way to celebrate this joyous season. And check out her top 10 easiest things you can do to save energy during the holidays.
1. Switch to LED lights. Just a 20 percent shift by American homes to LED lights would save 440 GWh of electricity during the holiday season. Some eco-stores, like Ellie's Eco Home Store, accept regular Christmas light strands for recycling -- and give you a credit towards buying LED lights.
2. Lower your thermostat. If your fireplace is burning, conserve energy by turning down the heat. Definitely do this during a party; all that body warmth will make up for it. Keeping it set at 68 degrees will make a huge difference in your energy bill.
3. Insulate your home. Plug cracks or leaks; install energy-efficient windows if at all possible.
4. Turn down water heater temperature. Set at 120 degrees, this saves energy; insulate the pipes to decrease heat loss as well.
5. Turn off lights when you're not home and when you're asleep -- including tree lights.
6. Plan shopping trips efficiently. Bundle trips and errands, and walk or carpool whenever possible.
7. Burn better wood. Try all-natural man-made logs instead of trees; Java Logs are made from coffee grounds, so even the ashes are compostable.
9. Buy locally. Shopping locally strengthens your community and saves fuel, too.