Christmas might be focused on trees, but that doesn't make it a green holiday. From wasteful purchases and non-recyclable wrapping paper to disposable party ware and high electricity bills, the holiday season can take a toll on the environment. By shopping local, crafting your own gifts, upcycling, and reducing waste, you can not only make the Christmas season more sustainable, but also save money and have a positive impact on your community. Read on to discover 10 easy ways you can green your Christmas this year.
1. Make your own recycled gift wrap:
Did you know that some Christmas gift wrapping isn’t even recyclable? Keep bags of trash out of the landfill by creating your own simple gift wrap from recycled shopping bags or brown kraft paper. You can also spruce up the packaging by making your own stamps from potatoes and other veggies.
2. Buy used:
Instead of purchasing new gifts, consider shopping used. Check out antique stores, Goodwill or eBay to find great deals on unique and unusual items for friends and family, like vintage dishes, pottery, retro outerwear, and jewelry. You’ll also be saving money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time!
3. Make your own gifts:
Why not DIY? Crafting your own gifts can be a rewarding experience, and personal gifts are always meaningful. You can take it one step further by using recycled and sustainable materials. Try your hand at making a tiny terrarium, scented pomanders, or herbed salts and sugars for baking.
4. Shop local:
Reduce your emissions and support a sustainable local economy at the same time. Love having artists and craftspeople in your neighborhood? Support them by checking out local boutiques, farmer’s markets, family-owned businesses and craft fairs to find great gifts that are totally unique.
5. Alternative Christmas trees:
Heady pine and fir are some of the most evocative Christmas scents, but the gorgeous trees are only on display for a few weeks before ending up in the discard pile at the curb. Extend the life of your Christmas tree by purchasing a live potted tree. If you live in a small space, you can also create a Christmas tree alternative by decorating a potted plant – Norfolk Island Pines work well for this. Finally, you can even craft or purchase a tree made from cardboard or wood, which will last for years with no messy needles to clean up. If you still crave that all-natural evergreen scent, wreaths and swags are a more sustainable choice, as they’re made from the boughs of live trees that can be harvested again and again.
6. Use Natural and Recycled Decorations:
Christmas decorations are fun and easy to make, whether at home, with kids, or even at your office! Make your own recycled cardboard Christmas village, upcycled wreath, or re-use old Christmas cards to make a garland. Its also sustainable and seasonal to decorate with materials collected from nature, like pinecones, pine boughs, and holly.
7. Skip Disposables:
Instead of using disposable paper napkins, cups and plastic silverware at Christmas parties this year, use dishes and cloth napkins instead. Not only are they reusable, but you can shop thrift stores to find charming mismatched sets of china and dishes that you’ll use again and again. If you must use disposable, spring for unbleached compostable products that reduce toxins and break down more easily than conventional disposables.
8. Save Energy:
Don’t leave your Christmas lights on all day. Instead, you can purchase and set a timer if you have a large or outdoor display, or you can simply turn them on at dusk. In addition, new LED and other low-energy Christmas lights are now much more affordable and nearly every store will have them in stock.
Its happened to everyone – you receive a gift you don’t like, but you keep it anyway. This year, start the holidays by going through your house and closet to donate used clothes and unwanted gifts to local charities. The winter is cold and unused and unwanted coats are always in demand this time of year. After the holidays, you can do a second round of donations with any unwanted gifts, as well as older clothes and products that were replaced by a new gift or purchase.
10. Burn Clean.
Candles provide a warm light to dark winter days. Instead of choosing candles made from petroleum-derived paraffin, seek out candles made from beeswax, soy or vegetable wax. As a bonus, beeswax has a sweet all-natural aroma that will scent your home as you light the night!