How to Have a Green Christmas
Eco-friendly strategies for making the holidays healthier for you -- and the planet.
Fresh vs. Artificial Christmas Trees continued...
No live tree is hypoallergenic, and the Christmas decorations you put on
them, especially heirlooms that have been used for many years, may be covered
with dust, which also can irritate people with allergies.
On the other hand, Lilienfeld says, artificial trees are made with petroleum
-- a nonrenewable resource -- and the manufacturing process often involves
dioxins, a highly toxic, cancer-causing chemical that accumulates in the fatty
tissues of humans and other animals.
They also lack the evergreen fragrance that signifies Christmas for many
people. Buying a fresh tree may eliminate the need for scented candles,
incense, and other overpowering fragrances that can bother people with
allergies -- as well as those without. And because most Christmas trees are
grown on farms, harvesting them does not disturb forests.
As for disposing of the trees, the National Christmas Tree Association and
Earth 911 operate a web
site that directs you to the nearest of nearly 4,000 locations nationwide
that will accept your tree.
A Green Christmas Feast: Moderation Is Merrier
The choice between a fresh or a frozen turkey poses a similar dilemma. Fresh
turkeys have no added hormones, but neither do frozen turkeys because the
federal government prohibits administering growth hormones to poultry.
Free-range turkeys may be raised without antibiotics, but the U.S. Food Safety
and Inspection Service requires that all turkeys given antibiotics be kept
alive long enough for the drugs to pass completely out of the bird's
If you want to make your meal more organic, you might be better off choosing
lots of organic vegetables.
When it comes to holiday meals, what's most important for your health is
moderation. If you don't eat too much turkey -- or anything else, for that
matter -- you'll probably do more for your health than any free-range or
organic bird ever could.
"Most people gain about a pound or more this time of year because of all
the holiday food and cheer," says Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, WebMD's
director of nutrition. "If you don't want to gain another notch on your
belt, try shaving a few calories wherever you can without denying yourself the
joy of holiday food and festivities. Moderation is the key. Be picky at the
buffet table, forget about second helpings, and when it comes to those decadent
desserts, eat only a sliver or share with a friend. Do everything you can
to stay active and keep up your exercise to thwart those extra pounds."