Christmas

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. STARTING OCTOBER 13, 2014 A NEW TIME FOR THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM MEANS A NEW TIME FOR THIS SEGMENT… YOU CAN NOW STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 835AM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!”~from How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess

GREEN TIP: Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. This extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra ton of garbage per week. Give the planet a gift, take control of your waste this year.

The Use Less Stuff Report offers a checklist of simple things you can do to reduce waste while you eat, drink, and make merry this holiday season. Here are a few:

  • Turn down the heat before your holiday guests arrive. You’ll save energy while the extra body heat of your guests will warm up the room.
  • After your holiday parties, don’t throw away the leftovers. Put them in containers and send them home with guests.

At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year – or over 100 pounds per person. Putting one less cookie on Santa’s plate will reduce his snacking by about 2 million pounds.

  • During the nation’s busiest shopping season, bring your own shopping bags.Christmas time
  • Consolidate your purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at each store on your shopping rounds.

If each household canceled 10 mail-order catalogues it would reduce trash by 3.5 pounds per year. If everybody did this, the stack of canceled catalogues would be 2,000 miles high.

  • Plan your shopping in advance. Consolidating your shopping trips saves fuel.
  • Rather than piling up “stuff” under the tree, think about what friends and family really want or need. Try giving gift certificates if you don’t know what someone wants, or simply make a donation in his or her name to a favorite charity.
  • Give gifts that encourage others to use less stuff, like a book about making crafts from reusable items, a cookbook for leftovers, a reusable tote bag and so on.
  • For kids, start a savings account or give stocks or bonds. It’s fun to watch money grow and it teaches children the value of financial conservation.
  • Donate unwanted gifts, along with last year’s gifts that the kids have outgrown, to charity.
  • When buying electronic toys and other portable items that are used regularly, remember to buy rechargeable batteries to go with them.
  • Make new tree ornaments out of things you already have around the house, or from materials you might find in the backyard: twigs, bark, flowers and herbs, pine cones and so on.
  • Old clothes and jewelry make a great dress-up box for kids.
  • Tools and gadgets make a great idea box for a young inventor.
  • Give the gift of an experience: tickets to concerts, tickets to a museum, tickets to a sporting event, gift certificates or even gifts of your own time.
  • Tie a bow around oversized gifts like bicycles or CD racks, instead of wrapping them in paper.
  • Wrap gifts in old maps, newspapers, Sunday comics or fancy holiday gift bags. Kids’ art work is a perfect wrapping for presents to proud grandparents.
  • Use brown paper grocery bags to wrap small-to-medium size boxes that have to be mailed.

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

  • Compost your food waste. Fruits and vegetables and their peels, pits and seeds are all perfect for composting – a great natural fertilizer.

Source: Use Less Stuff

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

One Green Planet

One Green Planet is an awesome site that aspires people to make conscious choices that are good for people, animals and the planet. One Green Planet is an independent publishing platform focused on sustainable food, animal/environmental protection, and cruelty-free/green living. They are also the biggest vegan/plant-based food and recipe site on the Internet. 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. STARTING OCTOBER 13, 2014 A NEW TIME FOR THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM MEANS A NEW TIME FOR THIS SEGMENT… YOU CAN NOW STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 835AM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Driving and maintaining your vehicle properly can increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and decrease your gas costs. Keep this in mind as you plan your Christmas, New Years and football championship road trips.

Here are some ways to practice more fuel-efficient driving, while creating less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, just in time for the holidays.

Planning your trip:

  • Get a customized map with low gas prices along the route. Because getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas.
    • FuelEconomy.gov provides fuel economy estimates, energy and environmental impact ratings, fuel-saving tips, and other useful information.
    • GasBuddy.com is a network of more than 200 website designed to help you find the lowest gasoline prices
  • Choose the right vehicle. If your family has more than one vehicle, drive the car that gets better gas mileage.
  • Drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.
  • Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public transportation to your destination.
  • Explore new ways to get around at your destination. Find information on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles.

Preparing your vehicle:

  • Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by around 3%.
  • Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.
    • If you’re changing your own oil make sure you dispose of your used motor oil responsibly. Used oil from a single oil change can ruin a million gallons of fresh water, a year’s supply for 50 people. Take your used motor oil to a used oil collection site (UOCS) that accepts and recycles used motor oil. In the US call 1-800-CLEANUP and in Canada call 1-800-667-4321 for the nearest used oil disposal facility. Source: Eartheasy.com
  • Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

On the road: Driving Tips

  • Decrease your speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over The farm November 201460 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents or more per gallon for gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% in town.
  • Use cruise control and overdrive gear. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and reduces engine wear.
  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to improve fuel economy.
  • Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Fill up before returning a rental car. Rental car companies charge higher gas prices if you don’t fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. Also save your gas receipts as proof.

The less gasoline used, the less money we pay, the less pollution we create, and the more we protect our planet.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Eartheasy.com Eartheasy provides solutions for sustainable living. They are a family business with an incredible story. They believe that the values of a simpler, less-consumptive lifestyle, with respect for nature, can benefit anyone in any setting – urban, suburban or rural. They want to get us thinking about what constitutes true wealth in your life, and the implications our lifestyle and consumer choices have on the environment.

Sustainable living is about respecting the limits of the earth’s capacity to provide. ~Greg Seaman, founder of Eartheasy.com

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. STARTING OCTOBER 13, 2014 A NEW TIME FOR THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM MEANS A NEW TIME FOR THIS SEGMENT… YOU CAN NOW STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 835AM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Christmas doesn’t have to be a drain on our planet. We can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season with a little effort and imagination.

Here are some tips to help you celebrate the season while caring for the environment:Caleigh in an adaptation of the Nutcracker

Greener Gifts

  • Look for locally made gifts. Many products you find in big box stores come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes greatly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation. And they are a way to give back to your local community.
    • Eco Chic Boutique – a green boutique specializing in eco-friendly, locally made, vintage and re-purposed items.
    • Unglued Market – a boutique featuring handmade items from the best local and regional artists, crafters, and makers. Also, vintage wares, creative workshops, and cupcakes from Bakeology and brewed coffee from Peace Coffee.
  • Look for gifts made from recycled sources. Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials. Some ideas:
    • ThinkEco2 – this company makes beautiful wooden gift boxes, planters and more from 100% recycled cedar. They would make a beautiful gift any time of the year.
    • The Green Glass Company – the largest producer of reclaimed glassware in the world, located in Wisconsin.
    • Uncommon Goods – an online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices including many handmade and gifts with recycled content.
  • Look for battery-free gifts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually.
  • Look for gifts that help make living green a little easier. For example, an awesome canvas bag for the man in your life like this one from www.fashionablenotes.com which reads, “Real Men Don’t Carry Paper of Plastic”.

Greener Holiday Lighting

The house with the most lights used to be the ‘best’. Times have changed. The cost of electricity goes way Christmas Tree in the Crystal Courtbeyond the utility bill. Electricity drains natural resources.

  • Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays. A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive, and more appropriate in the ‘season of giving’.
  • Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting. LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
  • Turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting off at bedtime. It’s a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone has gone to sleep.

Remember, never install lights with the power on. Test lights first, then unplug to install.

Source: Eartheasy.com

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Sustainable Baby Steps

This awesome site is full of great tips for getting you on the road to sustainable living. Sustainable Baby Steps is dedicated to guiding you to go green, save money and live healthy without stress, without needless spending and without overwhelming information.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~John Muir

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

GREEN TIP: Driving and maintaining your vehicle properly can increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and decrease your gas costs. Keep this in mind as you plan your Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday road trips.

Our friends at Traveling Greener have put together some ways to practice more fuel-efficient driving, creating less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, just in time for the holidays.

Planning your trip:

  • Get a customized map with low gas prices along the route. Because getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas.
    • FuelEconomy.gov provides fuel economy estimates, energy and environmental impact ratings, fuel-saving tips, and other useful information.
    • GasBuddy.com is a network of more than 200 website designed to help you find the lowest gasoline prices
    • MapQuest: Gas Prices includes maps of gas locations.
  • Choose the right vehicle. If your family has more than one vehicle, drive the car that gets better gas mileage.
  • Drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.
  • Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public transportation to your destination.
  • Explore new ways to get around at your destination. Find information on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles.

Preparing your vehicle:

  • Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by around 3%.
  • Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.
    • If you’re changing your own oil make sure you dispose of your used motor oil responsibly. Used oil from a single oil change can ruin a million gallons of fresh water, a year’s supply for 50 people. Take your used motor oil to a used oil collection site (UOCS) that accepts and recycles used motor oil. In the US call 1-800-CLEANUP and in Canada call 1-800-667-4321 for the nearest used oil disposal facility. Source: Eartheasy.com
  • Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

On the road: Driving Tips

  • Decrease your speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents or more per gallon for gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% in town.
  • Use cruise control and overdrive gear. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and reduces engine wear.
  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to improve fuel economy.
  • Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Fill up before returning a rental car. Rental car companies charge higher gas prices if you don’t fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. Also save your gas receipts as proof.

For more money saving tips and resources, go to DriveSmarterChallenge.org.

The less gasoline used, the less money we pay, the less pollution we create, and the more we protect our planet.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Eartheasy.com
Eartheasy provides solutions for sustainable living. They are a family business with an incredible story. They believe that the values of a simpler, less-consumptive lifestyle, with respect for nature, can benefit anyone in any setting – urban, suburban or rural. They want to get us thinking about what constitutes true wealth in your life, and the implications our lifestyle and consumer choices have on the environment.

Sustainable living is about respecting the limits of the earth’s capacity to provide. ~Greg Seaman, founder of Eartheasy.com

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by Wendy Gabriel

The Christopher Gabriel Program is giving away a fabulous gift every week day from December 1st toThe Christopher Gabriel Program December 24th. THE JAMES DENTON/DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES GIVEAWAY IS TODAY (12/23/2009)! Donated by James Denton, My Green Side added a sweet treat (some organic chocolate), the prize is a fabulous The Christopher Gabriel Program canvas tote filled with some awesome Desperate Housewives memorabilia. LISTEN TO WIN FROM 9AM TO NOON CT!

GREEN TIP: As you settle in to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, remember to reuse and recycle. Merry Christmas!

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day, Americans throw away a million extra tons [900,000 metric tons] of garbage each week, including holiday wrapping and packaging, according to Robert Lilienfeld. Lilienfield is co-author of the book Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are.

So why not recycle holiday gift wrap? Lilienfield, who has published a newsletter on reducing waste since 1996, notes that if every family reused just 2 feet [0.6 meter] of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles [61,000 kilometers] of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

I found a fabulous tip at eHow.com for making gift bows from recycled materials. Imagine, this years Christmas gift wrap can be next years gift bows.

On to the tree! Recycling fresh trees after Christmas can make a huge difference in reducing holiday waste. Instead of taking up space in the landfill, trees can be ground into wood chips, which can be used to mulch gardens or parks or to prevent erosion at a local watershed.

The National Christmas Tree Association, an organization which represents Christmas tree growers, has teamed up with Scottsdale, Arizona-based conservation group Earth 911 to point consumers in the right direction with their trees. On their site, you can enter your zip code to find the nearest of 3,800-plus spots nationwide that accept old trees.

Source: National Geographic

Christmas tree recycling for Fargo, North Dakota

Christmas trees can be recycled into wood chips. Trees are typically collected during the first full week of January on your garbage pickup day. Please place trees with your regular household garbage, not on snowbanks. Please remove all plastic bags and metal stands. Residents can also bring trees to the landfill, where they will be chipped into mulch. The landfill is open Monday—Saturday, 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Source: City of Fargo

Wendy’s weekly web pick:

Sierra Club
The Sierra Club’s goals are to help provide:

  • a safe and healthy community in which to live
  • smart energy solutions to combat global warming
  • an enduring legacy for America’s wild places

Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. We are the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States

A Sierra Club Holiday Survival Guide: How to Win Arguments and Influence People

Check out the amazing work your local chapter is doing!

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a different favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (Central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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Christmas is almost upon us and if you’re like me you haven’t yet completed your holiday shopping. I’ve compiled a list of some awesome eco-friendly gifts and some links to some other wonderful Holiday Gift Guides to make your life a little easier and put a smile on the face of your loved ones.

Books:

ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine: A Food Lover’s Road Map to Losing ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary MedicineWeight, Preventing Disease, and Getting Really Healthy by John La Puma and Rebecca Powell Marx

Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making by Micaela Preston

Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure by Jennifer Taggart

Food IncDVD:

Food Inc.

Starring: Eric Schlosser, Director: Robert Kenner, Rating: PG

This is a powerful film that anyone who eats should watch!

Gift Basket:

Fair Trade Mixer Gift BaskeEqual Exchange Fair Trade Mixer Basket: This fair trade gift includes a variety of Equal Exchange products in a fairly traded kaisa grass basket imported by Ten Thousand Villages from Dhaka Handicrafts, a non-profit that works to improve the lives of children and rural families in Bangladesh. This would be a great holiday gift idea – one that truly gives back.

The Fair Trade Mixer Basket is on sale for $47 until Dec 15th. Also find other fair trade gifts that support small-scale farmers, ranging from $27-$75. Order online and get 10% off your order and receive free shipping on orders over $75. Use coupon code: giftme10 during checkout. Coupon expires 12/31/09. www.equalexchange.coop.

For Her:

Reclaimed pottery necklacesReclaimed Pottery Necklaces

These pretty pink and blue necklaces are handmade from the broken remnants of 1960s-era Willow dishes. Also know as “Willow Ware,” this china was produced throughout the 1900s and is highly sought after by collectors for the beautiful, detailed images telling an ancient Chinese love story.

A lovely link to the past, the china is salvaged from the Pennsylvania Amish Country in an effort to help the environment and protect wildlife by removing this hazard. Each piece still maintains the original Willow pattern and is finished with sterling silver wire. Handmade in Pennsylvania by artist Laura Bergman. Includes a card detailing the story of the china.

Secret Garden Lunch Kit

This lovely little lunchbox set includes:Secret Garden Lunch Kit

  • 1 handmade, machine-washable bag
  • 5 machine-washable napkins, so you don’t have to wash them every day!
  • 1 pair of eclectic utensils
  • flap closure secured with a vintage button
  • 1 Lock & Lock lunchbox (for more information: Lock & Lock)

Between the disposable cutlery, bags and napkins, packing a lunch can be pretty wasteful. It doesn’t have to be! And GlueandGlitter has constructed the bag and napkins from vintage linens and organic hemp.

For Him:

Recycled Tire Inner Tube Men’s WalletRecycled tire inner tube men's wallet

Good-looking, tough, practical, good for the earth and El Salvadorian artisans. If the rubber was strong enough for a car or truck, it’ll surely be able to carry your cash and plastic.

Description: 6 credit card slots and full length paper money compartment.

For the Kids:

Jasmine the Butterfly Girl DollLittle Humbugs

The Little Humbugs are based on the engaging book series that involves children on a quest to help The Little Humbugs protect the Natural World.

Designed and created by award winning children’s author and illustrator Marghanita Hughes this engaging collection of Butterfly Girl Fairies and Dragonfly Boys will delight and Lucy the Bird Keepercaptivate a generation of nature loving children.

  • Butterfly Girl Dolls
  • Childrens Books
  • Dragonfly Boy
  • Personal Care
  • Sleepover Kit
  • Felt Bead Kit
  • Gemstone Collection
  • Butterfly Girl Birthdays
  • Kids Gardening
  • Prints

Other People’s Fabulous Green Gift Guides:

As I was compiling my Green Shopping Guide for this Holiday Season, I came across a number of really wonderful guides. Here are a few of my favorites:

2009 Holiday Gift Guide: From Love Earth Always, a fabulous downloadable guide containing high quality products from online retailers with fair trade Earth-friendly products.

A Few of RYD’s Favorite Things: Green Gift Guide 2009: Our friends at Recycle Your Day have compiled their first official eco friendly gift guide and it’s fabulous!

A Great Big List of Other People’s Best Green Gift Guides: Twilight Earth brings you the Best of the Best Green Gift Guides, by Jennifer Kaplan, author of Greening Your Small Business.

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide ‘09: Mambo Sprouts have gathered up a bunch of eco-savvy goodies and have broken it down into categories to make shopping easier for you – like Babies & Tots, Learn & Play Naturally, Foodies & Cooks, Gifts That Give Back, and many more.

Gifts to Green the Earth: Loving Nature’s Garden has compiled a list of gifts which make our homes, families, communities and planet a better, and more sustainable, place, a greener Earth.

Stocking stuffers for sustainable foodies: Robin Shreeves at Mother Nature Network brings us an assortment of small gifts that your foodie will love – all under $20.

The Ultimate Meaningful Gift Guide: Gifts of Efficiency from Energy Circle: This wonderful guide brings you some really fabulous gifts and stocking stuffers.

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by Wendy Gabriel

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is the making of the Gingerbread House. Since I love gingerbread almost as much as chocolate, it takes all my powers of self control not to gnaw off the roof before it’s assembled. This year we discovered it’s easier to decorate the walls and roof before assembling the structure, Little Greek goddess has a future in cake decorating and Baby Greek goddess loves little gumdrops with a passion.

And I had but one penny in the world. Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread. ~William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost

Starting the front of the gingerbread house

 
The back and the roof...

 
The Gingerbread House!

 
Some of my favorite photos and photo blogs:
Twilight Earth’s Photo Sunday
Mother Nature Sunday Gallery: Beaming Flowers from Love Earth Always
Photo Terri

Sam Can Shoot

Twin Cities Photo Blog

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Let’s embrace a new holiday tradition.  Reduce your consumption.  Reuse ribbons and wrappings and bows.  Recycle anything you can.
 
Whether you celebrate the birth of Christ, commemorate the rededication of the Temple, light a kinara to honor African heritage or none of the above, this is a wonderous time of year.  There is nothing quite like the magic of the first snowfall, the glitter of the decorations, the family gatherings and the unique traditions of the season.
 
In our home we celebrate Christmas and sometimes it’s easy to forget, perhaps more in this season than any other, the importance of reducing consumption.
 
According to Bob Lilienfeld with The Use Less Stuff Report, Americans generate an average of 25 percent more waste in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than at any other time of year.  And the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in 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.  And if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon,
the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

This year, create a new holiday tradition by resolving to reduce, reuse and recycle.

 

Here are some tips I hope will help:

Reduce your energy consumption by replacing your incandescent Christmas light strings with LED (light emitting diodes) light strings.  According to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) LEDs are exceptionally energy efficient when producing individual colors, many using up to 90% less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light.  For example, the amount of electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs — enough to light two 24-foot (7.3-meter) strings.

Reduce the paper and plastic bags used during this time of year by bringing your own bags as you shop for gifts or groceries.

Reuse your wrapping paper.  The Games & Toys editor at eHow.com has some wonderful ideas for reusing your wrapping paper:

  1. Use small scraps of wrapping paper to line greeting card envelopes. Simply trace the outside flap shape onto the wrapping paper and cut out, leaving the wrapping paper lining just short enough to clear the glue seal on the envelope flap.
  2. Use large pieces of wrapping paper to cover a shoe box and create a storage container.
  3. Use in paper mache projects.
  4. Cover small gift boxes and place a little note inside to make someone’s day.
  5. Shred leftover wrapping paper for package filler for another gift.
  6. Create book covers.
  7. Press used wrapping paper flat with an iron on low heat and use for background on scrap booking pages.
  8. Use as a mat for framed objects.
  9. Cut paper doll clothes from wrapping paper scraps.

Another way to reduce your wrapping paper waste is to make cloth gift bags and reuse them each year instead of buying paper wrapping.  My Nana started doing this when I was a child, sending all of our gifts in gift bags.  We saved them each year and then used them for gifts the following Christmas.  She also wrapped all of the gifts she gave us for our baby showers in cotton baby blankets.  It was a beautiful way to wrap as well as doubling the gift.

Recycle everything you couldn’t reduce and can’t reuse.  According to DoSomething.org, about 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable yet our recycling rate is only 28%. 

Time-honored family traditions and a little slice of green living really can walk hand-in-hand during the holidays!

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Reduce your energy consumption during the holidays.  The result will be a reduction in your energy costs, a lowering of your greenhouse gas emissions and, most importantly, an increase in your face-to-face family time.

As a mother of two little girls, it is sometimes a temptation to put the kids in front of the TV with the VeggieTales while we’re preparing to entertain.  Shocking, I know.  But we have made a pact this year to get our children involved with every part of our holiday preparations.  Who cares if your windows aren’t sparkling and the cranberries aren’t relished to perfection when your whole family is involved and embracing the celebration. 

Give your kids age-appropriate tasks to feel a part of the preparations:  Helping with the food prep, setting the table, making name cards and paper napkin rings or mixing up some homemade play dough to occupy little ones who may not be old enough to help julienne the veggies.

This homemade play dough recipe from The Green Parent is excellent! 

Ingredients:

1 cup organic flour

½ cup sea salt

2 Tbs. cream of tartar

1 cup filtered water

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a saucepan.  Combine water and oil in a small bowl.  Stir into flour mixture gradually.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until very thick, stirring constantly.  Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Knead until smooth.  Store in an airtight container.

We use a few drops of essential oils to make our creations smell fantastic; usually lavender because it also promotes stress-free play time.  And we color our dough by writing on it with some non-toxic markers and then kneading in the color.

The holiday season is a time for family, friends and giving thanks so unplug the TV, DVD player, gaming systems and computers.  Save some energy and enjoy the holidays. 

Be Well.  Be Green.  Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and all other holidays I’m either unaware of or have neglected to mention.

 

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Through blustery winds and mountains of snow, hither and fro I go buying Christmas gifts for my husband, daughters, parents, grandparents, in-laws, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, children of friends, soccer coaches, choir directors, and everyone else that is on my ever burgeoning list.  On top of that, I am trying desperately to remember my Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra.  No one makes it easy.  When I venture out into the retail meccas, I get this overwhelming urge to buy everything.  OK, calm down . . . breathe . . .

I found some great green gift ideas that might help someone else navigate during this crazy, hectic, magical season.

For the person in your life who embraces environmental sustainability, there are some biodegradable pens and cards at Clean Calgary Association.  As an added bonus the cards are embedded with seeds so when they are done being useful, they can be planted.

For teachers or coaches, etc. Plow & Hearth has some nice pewter ornaments you can purchase for a great cause.  For each ornament you buy they will plant a tree at “a site around the world where reforestation is needed.” They also plant two trees for every tree they use to make their catalogs.

A little bit of everything can be found at Our Green House.  Check out their great toys!

More fun, safe toys can be found at HearthSong and Magic CabinThese companies also plant two trees for every tree they use to produce their catalog.

Time-honored family traditions and a little slice of green living really can walk hand-in-hand during the holidays!

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