Saving planet and celebrating holiday can go hand in hand

first_imgWes Novotny loves the environment. He also loves big, crazy Christmas-light displays. What to do? He drives a hybrid, recycles and religiously monitors his thermostat to keep his energy usage to a minimum. But then there’s Christmas – a time for joy, presents and, most of all, lights! He spends his entire year planning, designing and making his elaborate creations, done up in themes of Charlie Brown, the Simpsons and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Seventy-one percent of shoppers say it’s important to purchase products that won’t wreck the planet, according to Pricegrabber.com, a comparison-shopping Web site. Seventeen percent are willing to pay more for environmentally sensitive gifts, according to Deloitte & Touche’s annual holiday survey. Perhaps it’s all the talk of global warming. Or the spreading scope of organic groceries. Or Leonardo DiCaprio rolling in a Prius and Madonna rocking out at Live Earth. “It’s probably the first year it’s been a big topic,” said Ron LaPierre, president of Westwood-based Pricegrabber. “We’ve been monitoring the interest for quite some time, but this is our first holiday where we’re really talking about it. “There’s been a lot of interest from people: Are there little steps I can take or is it a massive commitment?” To justify his fantastic setup, Novotny does both. In addition to his Light Emitting Diode bulbs – which use 90percent less power and can last 200 times as long as incandescent bulbs – he recycles pieces of wood and fake snow from previous displays. To conserve energy, he invested $15,000 in new windows to better insulate the two-story home at Ash Court and Deodar Place. He also mandates even stricter conservation methods when the outdoor display is turned on. “Yeah, we keep the house lights turned off, and we freeze at night,” said a grinning John Fosterling, who shares the house with Novotny and Novotny’s mom, Jean. As a result, even with a setup that dominates the entire front of the house, their December power bill is usually about $100. And that’s how it should be, said Richard Giss, a partner of retail in Deloitte & Touche’s Los Angeles office. The professional services firm’s annual holiday survey found that almost one in five consumers will purchase more eco-friendly products this season than in the past, while 17percent will shop at more green retailers. “First and foremost, people will indulge themselves at this time of year,” Giss said. “But there’s nothing that says you can’t do both.” When people feel that sense of luxury from a green product, then it’ll really be successful, he said. That’s borne out by Pricegrabber’s numbers – half of the 10 most popular flat-screen TVs its users seek out carry the EnergyStar efficiency rating. Demand for similar products swelled so much this year that the company started Shopgreen.com to handle searches for eco-gifts and donates 5percent of the site’s profits to environmentally friendly charities. Pick local organic goods Beyond just lights and presents, people can go green in their food choices, as well. The Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter recommends opting for locally grown and raised organic food to cut down on pesticides and shipping-related pollution. Spokeswoman Jennifer Robinson said the same goes for Christmas trees – or decorators could opt to hang their ornaments on bushes and plants around the house instead. As for the loot below those pine alternatives, 20percent of respondents in Deloitte’s survey will consider ditching wrapping presents altogether to save paper. “If it were just me, I’d have no gifts, but my stepmom likes to give gifts, so we do it,” said Zan Dubin Scott, organizer of Renewable L.A., a local conservation group. “We try to wrap our presents in newspaper or a grocery bag or scrapbooking material.” Not so long ago, that would have seemed a little odd, something reserved for Lisa Simpson or guys who wore a lot of hemp clothing. But when Al Gore wins an Oscar, the green message isn’t so hard to sell. “It’s exciting – I’ve worked on this issue for seven years,” said Kristi Chester Vance, director of communications for Forest Ethics, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for environmentally sensitive holiday catalogs. “I used to feel like the Grinch. I’m the one saying, `I don’t want so many presents; let’s worry about the environment.’ But since the Oscars this year, people have really started caring.” [email protected] 818-713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsSo he thinks carefully about how to display the Grinch without acting like one. “You can use the LED lights. You don’t leave them on too long,” he said. “It’s hard to balance the two, but I think about it, sure. … You cut back on certain things and go forward on others. We try to be as (eco-)friendly as possible.” The words “holidays” and “eco-friendly” didn’t always play terribly well together. The California Integrated Waste Management Board says there’s an additional million tons of waste generated nationally between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. But this year, holiday green isn’t just the Christmas tree and the stuff going into the cash register. Earth on shoppers’ minds last_img

Tonight AFROs First Edition with Sean Yoes Wednesday April 29