Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Green Christmas

Bing Crosby dreams of a white Christmas, retailers hope for a black Friday before Christmas, but I'm working toward a green Christmas.

For the past few years I've been trying to come up with ways to make our holiday celebrations a little more Earth friendly. Last year I ditched most of the traditional wrapping paper in lieu of plain white paper (like the rolls you buy in the kid's art section). I decorated some of the paper with a Christmas stamp and red paint, but most of the gifts were decked out in plain white with a big red ribbon tied around them. It made for a nice and simple display under the tree. Wrapping tons of gifts in any kind of paper may not be the most Earth friendly way to go, but at least the white paper could be tossed in the recycle bin at the end of the day. Many recycling facilities will not accept regular wrapping paper or tissue paper. Speaking of tissue paper, I've been cutting back on it too. Is it really necessary?

I also like to give themed gift baskets. I used to fill the bottoms of the baskets with the pretty shredded paper that comes in all sorts of colors. A couple of years ago I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea...using real peanuts or wrapped peppermints in place of the usual filler. It makes for a fun and unique presentation. These ideas also work great for mailing gifts. Do away with the annoying foam peanuts that everyone loathes and replace them with the real deal. Which would you rather find in your packages?

If I'm giving a food related gift, like homemade bread, I like to wrap it up in a Christmasy kitchen towel that can be used over and over again. And forget about buying more gift tags. Cut up the Christmas cards you received last year and use them to label your presents. I like to use a Christmas themed cookie cutter to make tags in festive shapes.

This year, I plan to do away with the traditional gift bags and replace them with reusable shopping bags. Publix for one has a wide selection of holiday themed shopping bags and I've always loved the red and white reusable bag Target sells year round. I think it's perfect for under the tree. I also plan to reduce the amount of gift wrapping I do. Each year I fill ginormous stockings for my nieces. They hold a lot of loot and every year I wrap each gift, no matter how tiny. This year I think I will leave most of them unwrapped. They're already hidden in the stocking right?

Here's one more tip. You know those boxes you go out and buy every year with pictures of snowmen, Santa, or Christmas ornaments all over them? Well here's a novel idea...don't wrap them! I mean what's the point of picking out the cutest boxes you can find only to hide them under wrapping paper? Tape up the sides, tie some pretty ribbon around them, and stick those babies under the tree. At least for the first use there is absolutely no reason to wrap them. Now, if you choose to recycle them next year - and I hope you do - go ahead and wrap them up.

Did you know Americans generate an extra 5 million tons of trash each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's? I hope you put at least one of these ideas into practice this year, and if you have any other suggestions for making the holidays a little greener, I'd love to hear them!

This post is linked to We Are That Family's Works For Me Wednesday.


Sharon said...

these are GREAT ideas! we try to use green decorations for the holidays too... we find so much in our yard, it's wonderful. And on top of that we do a lot of baking, so I'll have to think of ways to package them greener!

Swing by today if you get the chance. I host a blog carnival each Thursday about JOY -- I bet you have a lot of that!

'Becca said...

Great tips! What we use for most of our gift-wrapping is cloth bags we made several years ago and have used again and again. We bought Christmas fabric on sale in January and sewed bags in sizes to fit typical gifts (CD, standard sizes of books, sweater, etc.). Just stick in the gift, fold the open end around it, and tie a ribbon to hold it closed! You can tape a tag on it or punch a hole in the tag and thread it onto the ribbon.

We made our own Christmas tree back in 1996 and have used it ever since. Click my name for the details and also my mom's even easier way to make a "tree".