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11 Best Holiday Movies (and Their Subtle Green Messages)

By Blythe Copeland
December 7, 2012; 12:51 PM ET
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You might not realize it when you watch them again and again year after year, but some classic holiday films are sending messages above and beyond ‘don't be a Scrooge.'

If you look a little closer at these 11 great films - from "Gremlins" to "A Christmas Carol" - you'll see subtle green messages on invasive species, over-the-top electricity usage, public transportation and more.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Shot from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Image courtesy of Kit Cowan

Whether you go real or fake Christmas tree, Charlie Brown makes it clear that spending more doesn't mean a better Christmas: "I won't let all this commercialism ruin my Christmas," he repeats.

His little tree might have seemed a bit sparse at first, but nothing that a little goodwill couldn't fix.

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"

When it comes to Christmas, Clark Griswold doesn't do anything halfway - and that includes their lights. With "250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 lights" adorning the outside of their house, the Griswolds are an energy-conservation nightmare (especially since they're decorating pre-LED).

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

Dr. Seuss's environmental feelings are clear from his deforestation classic The Lorax, but the brightly-colored Grinch comes with just as important a message.

After an unsuccessful attempt to steal joy from the Whos down in Whoville by taking everything from their toys to their roast beast, he sums up an anti-consumerism position in one succinct rhyme: "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags...What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"

Just something to think about on your next trip to the mall.

"Home Alone"

Was there ever a kid with a better grasp on the idea of reusing and repurposing than Kevin McAllister? After his family forgets to wake him for an 8 a.m. flight to Paris for Christmas, he's home alone - and left to defend his ridiculously beautiful house from two not-so-smart thieves.

Using paint cans, Matchbox cars, old mannequins, leftover tar, randomly-sized nails, a pile of feathers, and other items that most of us would consider junk, he saves the day without spending a cent.

"While You Were Sleeping"

The Polar Express may be a more kid-friendly ode to the benefits of public transportation, but we'll always prefer the sweet story of Sandra Bullock as a sans family token-taker in Chicago, Peter Gallagher (and his eyebrows) as the rider she saves from the tracks, and Bill Pullman as the brother she was meant to be with. It's full of good intentions and family misunderstandings - with a happy ending brought to you by the El.

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