Americans Opt for a 'Green' Christmas

By Daniel B Wood; Mark Clayton | The Christian Science Monitor, December 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Americans Opt for a 'Green' Christmas


Daniel B Wood; Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor


Kneeling in aisle 12 of a Michaels arts and crafts store, Acacia Adams loads her basket with rubber grapes, plastic pine cones, and styrofoam figurines for an artificial wreath.

"Along with ho ho ho, it's faux faux faux for us this year," says Mrs. Adams, mother of three.

A few blocks away in Aisle 9 of Costco, Jim Tremont loads a fake and frost-white Christmas tree (with hidden music speakers) into his cart. Sale price: $74.99.

"We're going lean, mean, and green this year," says the accountant from nearby Woodland Hills. "Yeah, I know it's white," he says, pointing to the picture on his box. "By 'green' I mean 'environmentally friendly."

And two miles south, Conchita Argueza sits at Starbucks Coffee, typing e-mail addresses of friends into a website specializing in environmentally friendly e-cards. She chooses a picture of an endangered animal, types a quick message, and presses "send."

"This saves time, money, and trees," says Ms. Argueza.

Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin notwithstanding, evidence is growing that more and more Americans are dreaming of a "green" Christmas this year. That usually means paying more money for LED lights, plastic Christmas trees, recycled wreaths, giving rechargeable batteries, and sending e-cards instead of real ones. A key reason: The hot topic of global warming has given people cold feet over energy-intensive gifts or ones that require fossil fuels to make.

"If you provide people with options just as delicious and just as gorgeous as the less-environmentally friendly options, they'll go with green every time," says Deborah Barrow, founder of TheDailyGreen.com, a website that caters to consumers inner-green with recipes for locally grown produce.

Locally grown food, she explains, requires less energy to haul to market and is often produced by family farms using more environmentally friendly methods.

Besides ecofriendly recipes, this year the website offered the "ultimate guide to ecofriendly holiday fun" including: How to pick the greenest Christmas trees, green and gorgeous holiday decorations, ecofriendly gift wrap, and green gifts for "ecodivas" and "gadget geeks."

"This year was a tipping point for a lot of people out there interested in making incremental changes in their lives," Ms. Barrow says. "The point is you can be green without living in a yurt and going off the grid. We're not telling you to turn off the lights - just screw in a energy-efficient light bulb instead."

Two recent studies support such anecdotal evidence of a shift in Americans' attitudes toward gifts and giving. One, a survey by Conservation International, an international environmental organization, found a majority of Americans (53 percent) - preferring to receive green gifts over the holidays, compared with a traditional gift of equal value. …

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