This holiday season, green is hotter than red.
For the first time, two of the nation's most famous Christmas trees - Washington's National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse and the tree in New York's Rockefeller Center - will be illuminated with LED energy-saving lights.
At the White House, all Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands will be shredded after the holidays and recycled as mulch. In the evenings after official events are over, all holiday lights except the Official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room will be switched off.
"President and Mrs. Bush are quietly doing a lot to make the White House more green," says Emily A. Lawrimore, White House spokeswoman, producing a two-page list of eco-friendly improvements including compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow toilets and green cleaning products. "They have done many things to make the White House as energy efficient as possible."
All this provides a shining example at a time when more and more Americans are taking seriously the environmental implications of their lifestyle and looking to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa in an Earth-friendly way.
"I don't think anyone profits when people go insane with spending on Christmas," says Jim Motavalli, editor of E, the Environmental Magazine. Every December, his family brings out an artificial tree inherited from grandparents and decorates it with vintage 60-year-old Shiny Brite ornaments stored in original boxes. "Reusing and recycling is a good thing," he adds.
That can be hard to keep in mind with all the decorating, card mailing and partying ahead. And all those gifts. If Mother Earth could talk, she'd probably ask that we all just stop shopping so much.
It is a commitment. Although easier on the environment, green products - just like organic food - are not necessarily easier on the pocketbook, says Pam Danziger, president of the consumer research firm Unity Marketing.
The first step in reducing Santa's carbon footprint is to get educated, so we've put together advice about alternatives. More will come in the weeks ahead.