There are so many things that make the holiday season exciting and joyful-seeing loved ones, baking special holiday desserts, and carrying out time-honored traditions like hanging stockings above the fireplace. This year, as you enjoy the close feeling of being together with family, consider taking a moment to create some new traditions that honor the holiday as well as the health of the planet. In addition to all the celebrating, the Christmas season is often a time of excess and waste, but it doesn’t have to be. Why not save the earth from some extra pollution, and save yourself some money while you’re at it? Below are some suggestions for a bountiful holiday season without all the waste. Enjoy!
Louisa’s Earth-Friendly Holiday Tips
- Save wrapping paper and ribbon to re-use: After years of saving paper and ribbons, I’m trained to open presents gently so as not to tear the paper too much or destroy the ribbon. I have a great stock of diverse paper and ribbon, and some that are great for kids’ presents, and some for adults. I can’t remember the last time I had to buy wrapping paper.
- Instead of using paper, “wrap” presents in Christmas stockings, or other reusable things like boxes, cloth bags, or scarves: It could be a special holiday tradition in your family. The point is that you can still hide the present and enjoy the wonderful anticipation before opening it, but without using a lot of packaging that can wind up in the trash.
- Send e-cards: Skip the whole process of buying cards, envelopes, and stamps, and send your holiday greetings over the internet. There are many places on the internet to find electronic cards. Here’s a site that gives you lots of free card choices, and allows you to donate to causes like animal welfare and the environment at the same time: http://www.care2.com/send/catxmas1.html
- Save cards: When it’s time to put away all of the Christmas décor, don’t discard holiday cards. Instead, neatly cut out the part that’s written on, and reuse the front with the picture as you would a postcard. I’ve been doing this for years and I almost never have to buy cards.
- Gift idea: Plant a tree in someone’s name as a present. What could be more special? If it’s for a child, they can watch the tree grow every year and help take care of it. It’s a great lesson for children in giving back to the earth, being responsible for something, and getting a sense of the power of nature: if all goes well, the tree should outlast all of your other presents.
- Instead of giving a thing, give an experience. Time and again, studies have shown that what makes people happy are experiences, not things. This year, perhaps you can skip giving your kids those plastic toys that they will forget about as soon as the battery runs out, and instead take them for a hike in the woods, a visit to a skating rink, a trip to a petting zoo. If you’re a natural born actor, why not gather everyone together over cookies and read a classic Christmas tale like “A Christmas Carol”?
- Make something. This term has a very broad definition. What about writing someone a song or a poem? Baking someone their favorite cake or cookies? Taking a photo and putting it in a frame?
- Make reusable Christmas tree ornaments that will be used year after year, and become family heirlooms. Evette Rios has a bunch of fun ideas for Christmas tree ornaments here: http://www.rachaelray.com/blogs/index.php/2010/12/06/win-a-rachael-ray-orange-christmas-tree/
- Try decorating a real tree outside. A decorated Christmas tree is a beautiful object that smells wonderful, but cutting down a tree, transporting it to your home, and then throwing it in the trash creates a lot of waste. Why not decorate a favorite tree at your home, and save yourself the backache and trail of pine needles at clean-up time? Place your gifts by the fireplace if you have one, or hang a wreath above a table to make a special gift area.
- Get a reusable tree like the one Rachael mentioned on her show, which you can set up without fuss and then put away. Here’s a funky orange tree, Rach’s favorite: http://www.rachaelray.com/blogs/index.php/2010/12/06/win-a-rachael-ray-orange-christmas-tree/
- Instead of putting your Christmas tree in a landfill where it can’t do any good, take your tree to a compost facility where the tree can be turned into nutrient-dense soil or mulch. Here is a website that tells you where to take your Christmas tree in order to have it composted: http://www.pickyourownchristmastree.org/disposing.php
Thanks to GreenSanta.com.au for this posting’s main image. Check out their site for more information on greening your Yuletide season.