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The holiday season can bring a lot of challenges to keeping a green lifestyle. The festive parties you used to throw without caution to your carbon footprint are now a public platform for your guests to pick up your eco-habits.

Party in eco pleasure this year
Put the party poppers to one side this year

Endless traditions run through your mind. What people will think if your plastic garland from the 90s ornates the banister? Should you switch your turkey for a tofurkey?

Two experts say don’t give up turkey; it’s the little things that are going to count. Tiffany Dasilva, co-founder of Talen Events in Ontario, Canada and Jaye Graham, event director of It’s Personal Occasions in Ontario, and the producer of Canada’s upcoming Eco Wedding and Lifestyle Show have identified some key points on throwing a green holiday party.

“What people usually think when they are throwing a party and want to stay environmentally friendly is that there are all these thing they can screw up on,” said Dasilva. “We try to tell people every step you make is a step in the right direction. You are being the change that you want to see in the world. “

We’ve narrowed their tips into six categories. We’re calling them the six ingredients to party planning, and these women claim it doesn’t have to be hard to stay inside the green lines.

Q: How can we keep invitations green?

 Tiffany: There are so many other ways to invite people. There’s e-vites, there’s Facebook, and there’s the long lost phone. Bring it back to talking to people.

Jaye: “There are invitation companies out there that are eco friendly. There are also plantable invitations. You can send an invitation that’s also a tree sapling or a flower if you plant it.

Q: How can we keep transportation to and from our party green?

Tiffany: While you are inviting people, incorporate transportation. If you know someone is coming from one direction ask them to pick grandma up on the way. By taking that extra step you are making them think carpool without telling them: you need to need to be eco friendly to come to my party.

Q: Décor. Christmas decorations are often plastic or synthetic material. Should we keep that stuff in the closet for fear of looking like we didn’t take the time to care?

Jaye: If you’re really crafty you can make garlands out of fabric or yarn, popcorn and cranberries. Try making decorations out of gingerbreads, cookies, and pinecones. Fruit and food make nice centerpieces as well. I think it’s all about going back to the traditional Christmas that our grandparents and great grandparents had. Back then they were thrifty. They made their own stuff, and it was all edible or biodegradable because it was all they had. So think old fashioned. Our grandparents had it right.

Tiffany: I say, in with the old, out with the new. Use what you have. You don’t want to say ok I’m going to be eco-friendly so let me throw away all these things that are bad for the environment. You’ve already purchased it, so you might as well use it until it’s gone.

Jaye: If you want a more modern feel it’s possible. Go with glass decorations. Centerpieces with pebbles and food colorings are nice. Black and white linens are classic and you can use them every year and look really nice with metallic colors like silver.

Tiffany: I think when you bring out the old décor that means something, and it becomes more of a talking piece. Once you go that route, decor is just making people feel more relaxed which is what it’s supposed to do to begin with.

Q: How can lighting be a part of our party?

Jaye: Use LED lights. You can stuff a pile of them in a vase and then they can decorate the table. Whatever you do, don’t use paraffin wax candles. They are a bit cheaper but beeswax and soy are a lot less toxic.

Tiffany: When you see big extravagant parties people always incorporate lighting, but people don’t realize they can do it in their own home. In some rooms, think about just using beeswax candles for a relaxed setting. In another, maybe the only lighting you need is the Christmas tree. You can incorporate lighting, and conserve energy while you are setting your mood.

Jaye: Instead of using scented candles, put a pot of water on the stove on the lowest setting. Put in cinnamon sticks and orange peels. It’ll hydrate the home, and make it smell nice.

Q: How can my food and drink selection be environmentally friendly without having to serve tofu?

 Jaye: Buy fair trade and organic food.  Better yet, make it a potluck. There are lots of organic spirits, wines, and beers. Do your research about them, but anything to encourage companies to be a little bit more mindful is a good idea.

Tiffany: I have a share at a local farm. So every week I can pick up a basket of whatever vegetables they have. Sometimes I get the craziest vegetables you’ve ever seen. It’s fun to tell people about what’s available because they might not know about all their options. This way your food becomes a talking piece. It’s not just a turkey dinner; it’s a turkey dinner from that guy down the street who owns that big farm that we pass by everyday. It’s a way to showcase what the city has and what kind of local foods are available.

Q: Does cleaning up have to be a drag?

Jaye: The biggest thing for home parties is to avoid the disposable anything. Most people have a dishwasher: use it. Don’t be lazy. I’ve seen parties where as soon as they have more than five people over they don’t want to do the dishes. If you are going to spend money on disposables, why not take that money to a thrift store and buy a pile of plates. That way people can take their plates or teacups home afterwards and reuse them.

Tiffany: When we get married we get all this nice dishware, but when people come over they bring out the plastic and disposable stuff. It’s a great time to bring out all your nice stuff. I know that when we have a party we make it an event to clean up afterwards.

Jaye: If you really hate cleaning up, rent. Rent your cutlery and your plates, and the company will pick them up and wash them for you.  If you’ve got a big party that’s what you should do because you won’t be throwing stuff away and it doesn’t cost that much.

Tiffany: Make sure to use green cleaning products. And that pretty much wraps up a great party.

Jaye: Just relax. Take a breath and do what you normally do and try and avoid things that get thrown out. That’s the main thing. Most of all just have a great time.

For more tips on throwing great parties you can check out Talen Event’s blog at http://blog.talenevents.ca/. For lots of other great green ideas Jaye has a blogging venue at http://eco-style-events.blogspot.com/.

We highlight the best in environmental art; including both painters and writers. We give you the low down on the green figures within the creative world, and what makes them so special. They all seem to have tireless energy, genuine passion for natural beauty and appreciate life’s often overlooked simple hidden wonders.

Eco artists and writers
Eco artists and writers

Joseph Beuys  (pictured above) – sculptor and installation artist

The hat wearing conceptual German environmental artist is an inspiration to artists and environmentalists alike. Many of his creations have environmental themes – notably “I love America and America loves me” where he spends 8 hours over three days locked in a room with a coyote.  He produced possibly the most eco art work ever with “7000 Oaks” where he and his assistants both highlighted and regenerated the poor environment by planting 7000 Oak trees around the city of Kassel. However, Beuys makes this list not only for his art, but also for his work towards environmental action. He helped setup Germany’s Green Party, and was elected as a candidate for election in the European Parliament. He spent much of the profit from his art on conservation causes, and protested for environmental matters all throughout his life.

Thoreau – Writer (1817 – 1862)

The American transcendentalist nature writer, inspiration to everyone that has ever thought of nature writing or ecology in the last 100 years, he remains a voice of reason.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

Typical Thoreau quotes, emphasising his stand point that the more rewarding pastimes are often the most basic. A rhetoric speaker of unusual common sense, fearlessly out spoken and well ahead of his time – he is arguably the person who forged the main stream back bone of Environmentalism more than any other.

Annie Dillard – Writer

A person that always aims to get as much out of everyday as possible – she teaches, writes poems essays and novels and draws and paints. Her most famous novel, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – a purposely slow paced book paying attention to the often overshadowed wonders of the natural world, she brings the reader into the reality and daily life of insects and frogs. Dillard is a much needed opposition against the impatient and throw away culture the seeps through much of today’s world.

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.

John Constable – Painter

Painting in a time when artists were expected to produce portraits and depict religious scenes, Constable went against the grain and painted beautiful and wild landscapes. He was exceptionally talented and would have become wealthy as well as being admitted entrance into the Royal academy early on in his career, if not for his love and burning desire to capture the rugged atmospheric landscape. At the time the idea environmentalism may not have existed, however many who gaze at his paintings maybe left with a longing for loose natural scenery and become aware of the slow pace of life and that used to exist prior to the industrial revolution.

Andy Goldsworthy – sculptor/photographer

Using the environment to make his works – most are of a temporary nature and so a photograph or video is the only way to preserve them long term. Sometimes it seems sad that his work will melt away or be washed into the sea, but this is the real beauty of his work – allowing people to appreciate the moment. He emphasises sustainability in his works – as they leave no trace on the landscape apart from the occasional cluster of flowers, plants, or mound of stones. Often his works are huge and require many people to make them and as such are full of community spirit. A true environmental artist, Goldsworthy is a leader in the field today.

Our eco reviewer this month is Claire Turnbull…

I tested the Beyond Organic Skin care range:

Beyond organic skin care
Beyond organic skin care

Moisturising day cream – this really was a delight on your skin, it made my skin feel soft and velvet.  It also helped reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Rescue salve – this really does what it says on the tin, it is perfect to apply to any blemishes, showing an instant improvement

Rejuvenating serum – Again, another treat, felt luscious on application and made me look positively radiant

Night cream –  this was delighful on the skin, my skin felt totally rehydrated and my skin was positively glowing, its non greasy and felt luscious on application

Although this skin care range is quite expensive, I believe it to be worth every penny as you cant put a price on your skin looking and feeling good.  It smells lovely and I seen an instant improvement in the appearance of my skin – I just need to go and buy the range now!

This month Hello Eco Living is loving “Method” – an all purpose non-toxic cleaner. Love is a strong word for a cleaning product and perhaps I’m taken a little by the pink bottle – but this really is a neat product.

Who thought cleaning could smell so good?
Who thought cleaning could smell so good?

The idea is that it works by absorbing dirt rather than chemically degrading it and it is biodegradable so you can clean your home without flushing super-toxic chemicals down the drain into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Sound good?

It also smells delicious – of grapefruit in fact. Nice.

Oh and to add to its eco credentials it comes in a lovely bottle that is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. It also comes in French Lavender – perhaps I’ll get this one next?

The RRP is £3 and you can find it at B&Q, Homebase, John Lewis, Ocado.com, Waitrose Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Whole Foods and many small independents.