Mitzvah Moments - December 2011
Choose and cut your Christmas tree at one of many local tree farms. Go to www.sonomauncorked.com/wine-country-events/articles/sonoma-county-christmas-tree-farms/ for a complete listing of all the tree farms in Sonoma County, with pictures, hours of operation, and types of trees available – including pre-cut trees – and other activities.
Unless you buy a living tree, recycle your Christmas tree. Call 707-565-3333 to arrange pickup by a non-profit for a $5.00 donation
Save energy with LED Christmas lights. While reducing electricity use by up to 90%, they produce almost no heat, reduce fire potential, and last up to twenty holiday seasons.
Save more energy by unplugging electronics and battery chargers when not in use. If all Californians did this, it would be like taking 120,000 cars off the road. Go to www.pge.com/myhome/saveenergymoney for other energy saving ideas.
“Green” wrap your presents. Save paper, trees, and water, while reducing global warming and helping to keep five million extra tons of waste – four million tons of it from wrapping paper and shopping bags – out of landfill. Go to www.greenyour.com/lifestyle/events/giftwrap/tips for ideas on creative reusable wrappings and sources for eco-friendly papers, ribbon, etc. And remember to take your own reusable bags when you shop
Ship green, too. Reduce some of the 300 lbs. of packaging that each American sends to landfills annually, by reusing packaging materials, shredded “junk” mail, or biodegradable or recycled packaging materials. Get eco-friendly packaging at the post office and have your mail carrier pick up your packages to save a trip to the post office. Get more info and calculate energy savings at www.usps.com/green. Offset the carbon generated by your shipping by UPS, FedEx or the Post Office at www.greenshipping.com, by using the tracking number.
Help your local economy, save gas, and reduce greenhouse gases. Every $100 spent in local independent businesses returns $68 to the community in taxes, payroll, and other expenses, but only $43 if it is spent in a chain store. Check out Vesta’s “Small Shops of Sonoma County” in this issue for lots of great possibilities.
Save gas if you can’t find what you’re looking for locally. Shop online instead of driving to the mall. It’s up to 27 times more efficient than making that special trip. Have presents wrapped and sent directly to the recipient. Check out www.freeshipping.org/ to save on shipping
Tired of getting gifts you really don’t want? Ethical Ocean just started a Better World Wish List where you can register for gifts you would really like that share your values. You can shop for others in their catalog, too. Go to www.ethicalocean.com/content/better-world-wishlists-share-your-values.
Remember those who will get little or nothing this year.
• The Living Room, Santa Rosa’s daytime drop-in shelter for homeless women and children, always needs donations. To find out what they need or to donate, call 707-579-0138 or go to www.thelivingroomsc.org/.
• The Volunteer Center’s Secret Santa Program delivered over 16,000 gifts last year. Volunteer to help with many aspects of this program by going to www.volunteernow.org/ and look for Secret Santa red gift heart ornaments at local businesses.
• The Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program has numerous drop-off sites throughout the county. Bring new unwrapped toys to any one of them, which you can find at http://santa-rosa-ca.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.asp. Call 707-584-5886 for more information.
Don’t forget the Food Bank. Most of us had lots to eat on Thanksgiving, as did many hungry people in Sonoma County. The holiday is over, but people are hungry every day. Redwood Empire Food Bank’s Winter Food and Funds Drive runs until January 31st. REFB, which feeds 78,000 children, families, and seniors, lost 85% of their federal emergency food funding this year, and needs to raise $47,000 – the equivalent of 94,000 meals – to offset that loss. Put something in the REFB barrels at grocery stores. You can also donate cash online at www.refb.org or call 707-523-7900. For every $1 donated REFB can provide $4 worth of food.
Donate Blood. Join the Hero Rewards program at the Blood Centers of the Pacific (formerly Redwood Empire Blood Bank). Donate three times a year to earn points for movies, music, and more! Call at 888-393-4483 or go to http://www.bloodcenters.org/ to schedule a donation. The need for blood is especially great during the holidays.