This year is all about having an eco-conscious Christmas. It may seem like a daunting task to turn your attention to the environment during such a hectic time, but it’s actually easier than you think to take a greener approach to the festive season To help get you started, we put together eight easy changes you can make now to give your holidays an Earth-friendly twist. The Christmas tree For years, artificial trees were considered the best option as they saved real trees. However, the production and disposal of artificial trees cause much damage, utilizing and emitting harmful chemicals and ending up in a landfill. A better idea is to source a real tree from your local tree farm. These farms continuously plant and replant trees, negating worries about deforestation and environmental damage. Furthermore, many of these farms offer other organic produce as well as tree recycling options. The other option is to buy a potted tree. These trees come with living roots, which means you can return the tree after the holidays or keep it for the next few years. Once the tree outgrows the pot, replant it in your yard or donate it to a local park. If you’re up for some crazy creativity, recycle assorted scrap lying around the house and fashion your very own tree. Empty bottles, beer cans, coat hangers, card board, whatever you fancy. Need some inspiration? Recycling the old tree The downside with real trees is the fact they end up on the curb or in the alley after the holidays and ultimately finish up in a landfill. Be sure to recycle your Christmas tree this year. Earth911.com offers a list of recycling organizations near you. Some of the advantages: Recycling your tree saves valuable landfill space. Christmas trees are turned into mulch, which can be used in parks and gardens. Christmas trees can be used as sand erosion barriers on beaches. You can put your tree in the backyard (using a plant stand) to be used as winter shelter for birds and other animals. Holiday decorations The holidays are a time for family, so gather around and bond as you transform old magazines, pieces of fruit, empty bottles and bits of lace into Christmas decorations. Eco-displays Play with cardboard, origami, old jewelry and organic materials like fruits, pine cones, dry branches, and flowers to create festive displays. These are small, simple decorations– sticks of cinnamon tied with gold trim as place settings for the big family dinner, painted pine cones on the coffee table, or your own wreath–that add to the festivities. LED lights and candles Festive, twinkling lights are a must for creating a festive home, but don’t go with just any lights – make the more eco-conscious choice. Switch from conventional Christmas lights to energy efficient LED Christmas lights. You’ll have lower electricity bills and a brighter Christmas. Replace petroleum based candles with eco-friendly natural-vegetable based candles, like soy candles. Say no to disposables Use your china or stoneware dishes when entertaining and stay away from plastic dishes and utensils. “Plastic leaches chemicals into your food, and when you throw it away it takes up to 500 years to decompose in nature,” Duneier says. If you have to use disposable dishes, search for eco-friendly products that are compost able. Gifts and cards Make sure your gifts and cards work for the environment. There are a number of eco-friendly gift options to choose from. Add a personal touch by attaching handmade cards, using papers and other recycled items, to your gifts. Green packaging Endless rolls of wrapping may look festive but they’re also a waste when you consider how quickly most kids tear into gifts Christmas morning. When gifting, especially within the family, use fabrics as wrapping material instead of paper. Pull out unused scarves, left over fabric and cloth bags to wrap Christmas gifts. If this idea appeals to you, look up the art of furoshiki, a traditional Japanese gift wrapping technique using fabric. Make use of eco-friendly bags, old wrapping paper or create your own personalized collage wrapping paper.