Creation Care Pagosa offers tips for sustainable holidays


At our November meeting, members discussed ways to be more eco-friendly this Christmas while still experiencing the fullness of joy in this holiday season.

Here are some ideas if you’d like to make a difference in protecting our environment this December and beyond.


1. Give toys that raise environmental awareness. Buy toys that are made from natural, long-lasting materials. Avoid plastic or battery-operated toys.

2. Buy local, buy handmade and buy American. Pagosa has many wonderful places to shop.

3. If you are giving clothing, buy clothes made of natural fibers such as wool, alpaca or organic bamboo or cotton. Thirty-five percent of the microplastics in our oceans comes from the sloughing of microfibers from synthetic textiles (fleece, polyester and spandex are all petroleum products) from our washing machines. This makes it the largest single source of plastic pollution in our oceans.

4. Consider giving a charitable donation in honor of a friend or family member in lieu of a physical gift. Some of the many worthy charities that support the environment include The Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the National Parks Foundation, the Nature Conservancy or the Environmental Defense Fund.

5. Less is more. Jesus only received three gifts for that first Christmas.

5. Think about suspending gifts in your family to adults, or draw one name for Christmas gifting.


Reduce or eliminate beef and lamb from your holiday diet. The climate impact of our meat consumption is roughly equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck and plane in the world. Eat more vegetarian meals—try a meatless Monday. Chicken and fish are the best environmentally friendly options. Think about meat as more of a condiment in your cooking, not the main source of calories. Stretch meat consumption by adding it to pastas, rice dishes and soups.

2. Americans discard more food than any other country, nearly 40 million tons, or 30-40 percent of the entire U.S. food supply. Households are the biggest culprit — far more than restaurants and groceries. The average American household could save at least $1,500 per year by eliminating food waste. Food waste not only robs the planet of resources, but when it is dumped in landfills, it causes methane gas, one of the key ingredients in global warming. Globally, food waste releases up to 10 percent of worldwide annual greenhouse gas emissions. So, plan your meals. Take a grocery list to the store and don’t get distracted by food you won’t eat.

3. Compost your food waste Pagosa is a tough place to compost because of the low humidity and cold nights. Dr. Terry Root, a world-renowned environmental scientist who spoke at to the Weminuche Audubon Society last month, recommended using a table-top composter. Add the compost to your gardens or lawns. Did you know one head of lettuce takes up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill, emitting methane gas the entire time.


1. A real tree is better for the environment than an artificial tree. Real trees help fight climate change, and even though your Christmas tree is cut down, you’re actually supporting the regeneration of forests. Most commercial Christmas trees are grown nearby in sustainable ways. Almost 75 percent of Americans now own artificial trees, and 90 percent of them are made in Asia. Shipping alone has a negative environmental impact. Artificial trees cannot be recycled and never totally decompose in a landfill. Many Chinese-manufactured trees contain lead, and most artificial trees are made with PVC containing known carcinogens such as phthalates. What is your best choice for trees? Get a permit to cut your own beautiful, fragrant, fresh tree. You can get a San Juan National Forest Christmas Tree Permit at for $8.

2. For outdoor decorating, think solar. Swap out your old electricity-gobbling lights and buy strands of LED lights.

3. Avoid a Griswold-style outdoor lighting display. Southwest Colorado is committed to cutting back on outdoor lighting to support a dark-sky environment. If you do have outdoor lights, put them under a covered location such as a porch. America’s Christmas lights are so bright they can clearly be seen by distant NASA satellites. Enjoy the stars instead.

Creation Care Pagosa encourages you to reduce your environmental impact this Christmas season. Pick one or more of the holiday tips above to enjoy a more sustainable Christmas.

Creation Care Pagosa is a faith-based environmental stewardship group that meets the fourth Thursday of every month at the Community United Methodist Church, but not this month. Everyone is welcome.

If you would like to be on our mailing list or need more information, contact Merry Christmas.