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Dreaming of a ‘green’ holiday

(ARA) – It might feel like the holiday season is still eons away, but think again. Do you have your decorating, entertaining and gifting plans in place? If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, why not think green this year?

This isn’t just about holiday garlands, trees and wreaths. This is the eco-friendly and sustainable kind of green. And keep in mind that going green for the holidays doesn’t mean being boring – you can incorporate all the glitz and glam of the season and still help the environment. Here’s how:

Eco-friendly fresh face

If you’re looking to perk up tired rooms before holiday guests arrive, nothing changes the look of a space more dramatically and cost effectively than a fresh coat (and color) of wall paint. Dutch Boy’s no-VOC Refresh Interior Latex paint fits the eco-friendly bill without sacrificing quality, an extremely important benefit. It even goes one step further – thanks to its innovative formulation featuring exclusive Arm & Hammer odor-reducing technology, Refresh captures, removes and locks common household airborne odors into the paint’s film. Rest assured, it will keep your house smelling fresh throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Twinkling lights

Forget the old, energy-hogging incandescent indoor and outdoor holiday lights. Think LED instead. Strands made from light-emitting diodes are up to 90 percent more efficient than traditional holiday lighting. According to the Department of Energy, the best white LEDs have been found to have a useful life of about 35,000 hours, or four years, of continuous operation. What’s even better: You won’t face the trauma of an entire strand blowing if one bulb dies. On LEDs, when one light goes out on a string, the others stay lit.

Sustainable sentiments

Americans purchase seven million greeting cards each year. Out of seasonal card sales, which account for half of total sales, 60 percent of these cards are Christmas cards. Imagine the number of trees it takes to produce that many cards each year, not to mention how much waste reaches landfills when the cards get tossed.

Send cards printed on recyclable paper with eco-friendly inks instead of traditional cards. Or better yet, take the plunge and embrace electronic greetings: send your holiday wishes to friends and family via the Internet. While old-school Emily Post-types might not quite approve of this method just yet, your environmentally minded loved ones will thank you – and so will our forests.

Smart gifting

The option to add an eco-friendly twist to holiday gifts is on its way to becoming limitless. With so many environmentally friendly products on the market, it’s easy to find a gift that’s thoughtful, useful and sustainable.

If you do decide to buy gifts at a bricks-and-mortar store, why not consider buying local and visit that charming boutique you keep saying you want to check out? Most of the time, these shops carry items from local vendors. They also tend to offer many handmade and/or eco-friendly products. Shopping local keeps money in your community and keeps small business owners thriving.

Another option is to make your own gifts – knit a scarf, bead a bracelet, bake a batch of goodies, get crafty with found items around your house. If you’re not creative, there are plenty of websites where you can buy handmade items from artisans in the United States or even abroad (be sure to look for fair-trade websites, if you buy from overseas, particularly from developing countries).

If you decide to completely go green and skip material gifts completely, give one from the heart by making a donation of your time and money in honor of the recipients at their favorite charities where many people can benefit from your generosity.

It’s not hard to make even small changes and go green for the holidays. By doing so, you’ll be helping the environment and still be able to deck those halls in style. The two no longer are mutually exclusive. It truly is possible to make your holidays both sustainable and spectacular.

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