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How to green your Christmas in Connecticut

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Here in Connecticut, oftentimes our motivation has more to do with staying warm than going green. I know. Whether that means forgoing your cold walk out to the recycling bin or buying hot chocolate out of a styrofoam cup.

But we have a new year around the corner and it's time to put Mother Earth first. If the crazy climate gyrations aren't enough to convince you to put her first, consider your children's futures. Do you really want them being forced to drink bottled water, drive only on alternate Wednesdays, develop cancers from the depleted ozone layer, and, gulp, be forced to bathe with a friend?

Christmas is the perfect time to change your old tired ways, too. Here's how:

BOOKING A FLIGHT

Book online, but don't print your itinerary. Just jot down the flight number on your tablet and bring it with you to the airport. Use your mobile to scan the boarding pass at check-in.

Speaking of flying, you don't really need to have luggage that screams "fat selfish American" when you meet your great aunt in Paris, do you? Find a sleek bag and bring it on board. Visit your airline's web site for requirements. Many companies such as L.L. Bean specifically sell airline-sized luggage.

GIVING GIFTS

It's not hippy-dippy to wrap your brother's gift in comic paper. Sure, we did it in the 70s and thought we were uber economical, but now we're doing it to be green. Better yet, draw on the box his X-box came in. A few squiggles and happy faces mean brother won't be wadding up paper and tossing it in the dumpster later.

Further, choose your gifts wisely. Eco-friendly gifts -- and it's not too late -- can be found throughout greater Connecticut. Visit Whole Foods, for example, where you can buy a range of products, from handwoven clothing to oils, soaps and jewelry.

COOKING THE MEAL

The best way to think eco when it comes to cooking is to buy locally. Here in Connecticut that means Gozzi's Turkey Farm in Guilford, or for you vegetarians, a "tofurkey" from Trader Joe's, such as in Westport.

Hopefully, you and your family have spent the past spring cultivating a fabulous garden, very Martha Stewartly, and now can enjoy that homemade apple pie you froze back in May. If you don't have a garden, it's a great time to tap that green thumb down the block. Maybe Mable the housesitter wouldn't mind contributing a dish from her garden. Most people are eager to share what they've grown themselves, and wouldn't mind an invitation to join you when they're alone.

ENTERTAINING

Get out of your car. It's snowy and cold and aren't you tired of figuring out where all the black ice is anyway? It'll be sixty this weekend so grab your bike and go for a ride with your Mr. Claus.

Dropping a couple l.b.s before 25 December is a great way to kickstart your New Year's resolutions. Moreover, biking is as beneficial to the environment as it is to your waste line. (Note: I came back to edit this to waistline, but realized maybe the error was more accurate.)

Other hobbies such as knitting and crocheting are wonderful distractions from the telly or being forced to address that umpteenth Christmas card to the cousin you can't stand. I like to unravel scarves or ugly beginnings of afghans and make them into something more beautiful. Remember, when it comes to staying warm in winter, no one cares if your handicraft is a little oddly woven.

Another eco-friendly and enchanting form of entertainment, caroling, will bring the whole family or you and your friends together. Walking, getting air, even singing off key and laughing your way home are far more rewarding ways to spend time this month than shopping till you drop.

CHOOSING YOUR TREE

You've probably already bought yours, but if not, think wisely and don't forget Mother Earth. Once again, it's far better to think in terms of giving back rather than just taking. A small potted tree or a tree you plant outside will mean far more in coming years than yet another tossed-to-the-gutter spruce that ends up in landfill.

Many people love to chop their own, and while not as eco-friendly as planting a tree, this is a better option than simply buying one at the local market. DIY types can support growers, provide children with a rewarding and memorable experience, and find just the right size for their home.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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