There's no time of year like December for piling on the pressure to procure, consume and spend, and it's easy to ignore the fallout until later. The result is inflated credit-card balances, mountains of garbage, bags of unwanted and discarded gifts, and extra-high energy bills.

What should be the most wonderful time of the year often can feel like a long gluttonous meal: You might enjoy it at the time, but it can lead to miserable aches and pains later on.

It doesn't have to be that way. This issue of the monthly Sustainable Life section offers the usual array of stories and guides to green living in our communities, and it puts a special focus on ways to experience the holidays with your wallet and conscience intact.

Some things I've been inspired to do by this Sustainable Life section: I bought LED Christmas tree lights (the energy efficiency is great, and I also appreciate that they don't heat up or burn out - ever!).

I'm saving a pile of brightly colored pages from magazines and newspapers to use as gift wrap. I'm buying more gift certificates and fewer gifts. None of that sounds like much, but if there's one lesson to be learned from the sustainable world it's that every little bit can make a difference.

Happy green (and red, and blue and white) holidays!

- Audrey Van Buskirk

Sustainable Life editor

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