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Begin the Christmas countdown
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Well, here we are at the most wonderful time of the year. I would try to stretch out Christmas as long as possible, if I could. Instead of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” I would propose the “Twelve Months of Christmas.” I love everything about Christmas!
However, if you are thinking that we should forget all about being green during the holidays, you are mistaken. Santa may be wearing a big red suit, but you can be sure he is a jolly old “green” elf!  Think about it: He drives an open-air sleigh, not a gas-guzzling air-conditioned SUV. The sleigh is “driven” by reindeer, so energy costs are basically limited to hay for feed — and hay is a renewable resource. No petroleum products necessary. A red-nosed reindeer lights the way for the sleigh, so that’s even better than LED lights. Santa has a bunch of elves that make toys for all the “nice” children around the world in a “fair trade” agreement, I am sure.  
OK, just one more and I will stop. The only time he uses coal is for the stockings of those “naughty” children!
Seriously, it is easy to be green, even at Christmas. Santa seems to think so. So forget the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” here is my five-day Green Christmas Countdown:
• On the fifth day before Christmas, this is what we can do: We’ll finish our Christmas decorating by using natural items, like greenery and berries, and natural ribbons, like raffia. We’ll make sure we use an Earth-friendly Christmas tree that we can recycle at the Bring One for the Chipper event Jan. 10. We’ll pick tree decorations that are made from recycled items or are handmade or natural items. We’ll purchase fair-trade decorations, in which the crafters have received a fair wage for their efforts.
• On the fourth day before Christmas, this is what we’ll do: We’ll finish our gift shopping, but instead of going out in a mad rush, we will make a list of what we need and then try to purchase as many items in one or two locations rather than driving all over town and wasting energy (the car’s and ours). We also will consider purchasing as many items as possible online that require minimal shipping or delivery considerations and purchasing gift cards or giving donations in honor of our gift recipients. We also will give our time for some gifts — this is one of the best presents of all. And certainly, we will use reusable shopping bags for all our purchases.
• On the third day before Christmas, this is what we’ll do: We’ll wrap all of our gifts using recycled wrapping paper or fun items, like the cartoon section of the newspaper, for our wrapping. This can be a great project for kids. We will prepare last-minute Christmas cards using cards made from recycled paper, too, or send e-cards to tech-savvy loved ones.
• On the second day before Christmas, this is what we’ll do: We’ll give our house a wonderful eco-friendly glow by using LED lights instead of regular incandescent bulbs. LED (light-emitting diode) lights will last much longer and use a fraction of the electricity that regular lights use. We will use permanent luminaries outside instead of paper ones because they are safer. We also will use candles made of beeswax and soy instead of traditional candles, which are made of petroleum products. Our houses will glow inside and out in a positive, Earth-friendly way!
• On the last day before Christmas, this is what we’ll do: We’ll cook a feast made from locally grown produce and organic foods. We’ll minimize the use of heavily processed foods that have preservatives in them. We also will not go overboard and make enough food for an army. Food waste is excessive at the holidays. We will cook enough to enjoy on Christmas with leftovers to enjoy later. Our families will eat healthier and the food will taste great, too. We’ll also do Christmas crafts with the kids that can be eaten or used as decorations for our Christmas tables. And we won’t forget Santa, either. We will bake up some organic cookies for him to snack on tonight with a glass of almond milk.
When Christmas arrives, we can relax and enjoy a blessed day with our families and friends, knowing that not only do we have a lovely Christmas, but also one that has been kind to the Earth as well. We will recycle all we can after opening presents, and the kids can make paper chains from some of the ribbon remnants and recycled wrapping paper.
As we settle down for a long winter’s nap, we will remember to mark our calendars to recycle our live Christmas trees between Dec. 26-Jan. 10  at any of the drop-off locations at the Liberty County Solid Waste and Recycling Centers (for site information and details, check out
And as we drift off to sleep, we will be dreaming of sugar plums dancing in our heads and of all the fabulous Earth-friendly ways we can have a happy new year! So let’s start that countdown…
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

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