“Eco”nomics: Meet Green Tuesday

For years, it’s been Black Friday and Cyber Monday: once-a-year promotion days after Thanksgiving when shoppers feast on slashed prices and bargains. But now, Mother Nature’s looking to get in on the deals.

Non-profit environmental group Green America has recently been pushing “Green Tuesday”—a day dedicated to deals on eco-friendly products. The premise is simple: the organization intends to stimulate sales for environmental and local businesses, much like the retail powers behind Black Friday seek to stimulate the economy.

As Todd Larsen, director of corporate responsibility for Green America (AKA the department that makes sure the products Green America features meet its environmental and ethical standards), told the Associated Press: “Mass culture encourages people to run out of their house, now at midnight, and go shopping. Why not wait another day or more and buy something that helps others?”

This shop-a-thon doesn’t work in the traditional sense; instead of luring customers to blow out hundreds in a matter of hours, Green Tuesday has opened up a bevy of deals to last throughout December. It works through http://www.greendeals.org/green-tuesday, a website that presents deals and discounts for green goods. New “GreenDeals” are released every twenty-four to forty-eight hours and last until they sell out, which, according to the website, often occurs within days.

Products included range from nuclear-bomb-equipment-turned-jewelry to LED lights, from magazine subscriptions to grow-your-own-mushrooms kits, from organic balms and moisturizers to water bottles with built-in filters.

“It’s just really convenient,” said shopper Jennifer Wrigley, while browsing through coupons. “I can find something for everyone, and it suits my budget too.”

“Planet-friendly gifts can get expensive,” agreed fellow buyer Kayla Sweeney. “This gives everyone a chance to do good.”

Extra-alert customers can also sign up for the GreenDeals newsletter, which sends daily email updates about new markdowns.

But, its creators stress, Green Tuesday isn’t just about shopping smarter; it’s about living smarter.

“We’re here to help you live greener, spend, consume, and conserve for a better world,” says the group on its website. “That’s why GreenDeals gives you more than just great deals. We’ll also feature green tips for everyday living, green coupons, and other offers from our Green Approved Businesses.”

To become a “Green Approved Business,” a company must pass Green America’s screening process, which examines its “practices, policies, and products.” Businesses that merit “Green America’s Seal of Approval,” both national and local, receive the chance to promote their products online with GreenDeals. Notable brands currently featured include Solar Goose, Indigenous, Back to the Roots, and Hydros.

It’s a win-win situation, say advocates of the month-long shopping fest. Customers seeking to save green and be green can benefit themselves and support local, eco-friendly businesses all with one click.

So whether it’s Christmas gifts for the entire family or just a mid-December pick-me-up, keep GreenDeals in mind this holiday season. Because as Green America says, “your everyday greener choices make a big difference.”

Photo Credit: wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:20_Dollars_art3.jpg

Dreaming of a Green Christmas Tree

December 17, 2010
People across America are beginning to wonder how we can make Christmas a more “green” holiday. With hopes for a more ecologically sustainable future, many seek to dismiss the wastefulness and excess consumption that have long been the hallmark of the season. The first step would be to buy a real farm-grown Christmas tree, a sustainable alternative to a plastic, PVC-based tree. But tree-lovers are averse to the idea of chopping a tree down just to stick it in a dish of water, watch it turn into a pile of brown needles, and throw it in the waste bin a few weeks later. Many consumers would like to keep their Christmas tree alive instead of killing it every year. Fortunately new industries are emerging that are changing the nature of our relationship to the Christmas tree.

Companies who deliver live potted Christmas trees to homes and businesses are emerging as a response to this new demand, offering a promising green alternative to the cut tree industry. This service allows people to enjoy the tradition of the Christmas tree while encouraging the tree’s growth and sustainability. The Living Christmas Tree Company, founded in Redondo Beach, CA in 2008, is one such company that provides this service. Founded by a landscape architect, the company offers a variety of potted evergreen trees that their customers can choose from, including Sequoias, Cedars, and Monterey pines, all expertly grown at their nursery. The tree is delivered to the customer’s home and then returned to the nursery at the end of the holidays to live and thrive for the rest of the year. Customers can even reserve their tree for the next Christmas so they can have the same tree every year. Now that’s evergreen!

Such options are allowing people to celebrate Christmas in an eco-friendly spirit and to dismiss the wastefulness that has long defined the holiday in America. This new spirit hearkens back to the Pagan origins of the Christmas tree ritual. Originally, Pagans in what is now Germany ventured into the woods and decorated living trees with lights and gifts as worship to the forest deities. It was called Yule-tide and was a festival of reverence for nature. The long life of the evergreen trees was celebrated rather than cut short. With environmental consciousness growing in our culture, perhaps this approach to the Yule-tide celebration is reemerging.

There are other ways to enjoy a Christmas tree in your home and keep it alive, if you can’t find access to a Christmas tree rental company. You can purchase potted evergreen trees at a garden store or nursery. Try to speak with a tree expert there about the best way to care for the tree inside and how to transplant it outside. Alternatively some companies will plant the tree for you in your community. One of the longest-running live Christmas tree companies has been operating since 1992 in Portland, Oregon. Living Christmas Trees will deliver a potted Christmas tree to their customer’s door and once the holidays are over will replant it in the Portland area. What a way to integrate the joy of Christmas trees into the surrounding community.

Buying a real, farm-grown tree and avoiding fake plastic Christmas trees is merely the first step to a celebrating a green Christmas. If we are to promote a tree-filled world and an ecologically sustainable future, then promoting Christmas tree growth is the perfect tool to achieving this. Every acre of Christmas tree farm creates the daily oxygen required by 18 people. If we replanted all these trees in the empty land surrounding our cities, we would have a greener world in general, and not just for the sake of Christmas.

Traditionally, people think of Christmas as a time of over-eating, overconsumption, and waste. But as we move into an age of greater environmental awareness, we may find that Christmas offers an opportunity to celebrate green values instead. After all it may be a truism but some of the best parts of the holidays are free – family, friends, love and togetherness. And as for the tree itself, Christmas is already on the right track. With just a few tweaks (and a nod to our pagan friends), it could become the model celebration of ecological and social sustainability.
Photo 1, 2