I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas

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By Erin Lowe <elowe@hilite.org>

This year for the holidays, math teacher Kelli Rogers is using LED lights for efficiency, she is not wrapping up as many gifts, and if she is wrapping gifts, she will put all gifts in one box and then wrap just one item. “(My husband and I) also try to eliminate packaging when possible. Many items come wrapped in two or three levels of plastic, boxes and such. If we can remove the packaging and recycle it, then we know it is getting recycled,” Rogers said.

In today’s society where scientists warn about rising global temperatures, people like Rogers said they are more concerned about the conservation of the environment for the future. People are learning that there are many steps they can take to help the environment including recycling and lowering the amount of water and energy they use.

And this holiday season, according to George Ohmer, sponsor of The Healthy Environment, “THE Club,” and AP Environmental Science teacher, is a great time to practice going green. “I get live Christmas trees but get them shredded afterwards instead of letting them go straight to a landfill,” he said. “Artificial trees actually use oil. Getting a live Christmas tree doesn’t really affect the environment because there are Christmas tree farms that grow a lot of them. It actually helps the economy.”

According to junior Kristin Lieber, recycling is an easy way to go green. “We recycle all of our water bottles, newspapers, magazines, milk cartons, plastic bags and cans. We’re going to have a lot of bags from buying gifts and we will use them to give the gifts away and then recycle them afterwards,” she said.

Even with decorations, there are steps people can take to be green. People can put up LED lights that are better for the environment because most other fluorescent lights contain mercury that gets into food and other products.

Being green is not just a holiday thing for Rogers; she does it all yearround. “Outside of the holidays, my husband and I recycle about 75 percent of our trash. We have reusable grocery bags that we take everywhere. We have eliminated plastic water bottles and use refillable Nalgenes. We have energy-saving light bulbs in all our lights. We no longer buy books but rent them from the library. We no longer buy CD’s but download them. All of our TV’s and computers are on power strips that we turn off every night to stop using ‘vampire’ electricity. We are shopping for a new car, and it will be a hybrid or a high gas mileage vehicle. I also recycle all my paper in my classroom and encourage my students to do the same.”

Rogers said that she started caring more about the environment after seeing former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I started living a green lifestyle to help protect the planet and to put a stop to global warming,” Rogers said. “We are a huge supporter of the environment and realize that we can make a difference. The documentary ‘Planet Earth’ by the Discovery Channel shows so many amazing aspects of this planet that we will destroy if we are not careful. Seeing all of the destruction already caused by our carelessness is disheartening.”

“There are ways to getting started on going green,” Lieber said. “Find your nearest recycling bin, look at organic food prices, read on how to protect the environment and take care of yourself and where you live.”

Rogers said, “If you are a beginner the first step is to start recycling, start with paper. It is so easy to sort and there are recycling bins all over Carmel. Once you make an effort to start recycling it will become a habit to look on everything you intend to throw away to see if it can be recycled. Then just toss it in the right bin. Also read the ‘Green Book,’ you can get it from the Carmel Library and it has great tips on what you can do cost no money. Also start taking your own bags to grocery stores. Meijer even gives you a discount if you bring your own bags.

“Helping the environment is just the right thing to do,” Ohmer said. “I feel bad if I throw something away that can be recycled.”