Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spread Joy to Mother Earth and Local Communities

With the holiday season upon us, it seems impossible to celebrate and enjoy the holidays while being environmentally friendly. But have no fear! There are many ways to support your community and be an environmentally sensitive and responsible consumer.

Rent a Christmas tree! Instead of cutting down a live Christmas tree or buying a synthetic one, rent one! A company called The Living Christmas Co. rents out locally-grown Christmas trees to residents and business owners in Southern California. You pick from a variety of trees, they deliver to your home or office, you keep the tree throughout the holiday season, and when the time comes, they pick it up and return it to their nursery. The room will have that pine scent people love about live Christmas trees, there will be less mess since the tree will not be dying, you won’t be buying plastic, you won't have to worry about finding storing space, and the tree will ever-so-slightly help offset carbon emissions. What I love the most about this option is that you can even adopt the tree, so that year after year, you receive the same tree and get to watch it grow.

Think differently about wrapping presents. Instead of buying wrapping paper, try using cloth, shoeboxes, newspaper, or reuse gift bags from other occasions. During my childhood, my family would collect shoeboxes and gift bags that we received from shopping or parties and use them for all our celebrations. We also would try to save as much tissue paper as possible and refold them for future use. I didn’t realize it back then, but every year we were being environmentally-conscious! It was easy, cheap, and I grew to have “favorite” bags that I would look for.

Buy from local businesses. Support your local community this holiday season and head to some fun events where you can find the most unique and memorable gifts for your loved ones.

Here are some excellent ones to check out in the Los Angeles area:

A great upcoming event is Unique L.A. happening next Saturday and Sunday (December 11 & 12) at the California Market Center on 110 East 9th St in Los Angeles. From 11-6pm each day, explore the handcrafts, clothing, housewares, and food from over 300 local designers and artists. It will be the largest independent design and gift show in the country and only costs $10 for admission, which includes a limited edition tote bag, free drinks, contests, and workshops.

Another wonderful event happening those same days (December 11 & 12) from 10am-6pm is the SPIRAL Foundation Holiday Bazaar, taking place at 211 Vance St. in Pacific Palisades. A non-profit humanitarian organization, the SPIRAL Foundation fundraises money to help those in Nepal and Vietnam find employment, receive education, and treat life-threatening diseases.

Once you are done shopping at Unique L.A. and SPIRAL’s Bazaar on Saturday, that same evening head to the Mahasukha Center’s 3rd Annual Festival of Bliss at 6512 Arizona Ave in Los Angeles. From 7:30 to 10pm, there will be a silent and live holiday gift auction and entertaining music and theater performances by award-winning artists. All proceeds will benefit the Mahasukha Center, where they offer donation-only yoga, meditation and in-depth study classes in the Dalai Lama’s lineage.

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