40 Simple Ideas To Make Your Christmas Green
December 23, 2008 by Gwen
Brightly wrapped presents, colorful lights and a sweet-smelling turkey dinner fill everyone’s thoughts and dreams as Christmas quickly approaches. However, no one considers the aftermath until all the festivities are over.
The fact is that every Christmas we generate thousands of tons of waste and use more energy then at any other time of year. Christmas lights increase our energy bills, wrapping paper is discarded by the roll and unwanted presents sit on shelves until eventually they are thrown away.
Small changes can make big differences and do a lot to help our environment. A “Green” Christmas doesn’t mean we all have to turn into the Grinch, it just means thinking outside of the box and doing things a little differently then we have in the past. Below are 40 simple ideas that you can do to give a gift to Mother Earth this year.
- Use LED lights to decorate your home and tree. They use 75% – 90% less energy than traditional Christmas lights and they last up to 10 times longer.
- Use solar Christmas lights to decorate the outside of your home. They cost a little more but there is no electricity bill at the end of the holidays.
- Decorate with pinecones and evergreen boughs instead of store bought décor. They are completely biodegradable and give off a wonderful, natural scent.
- Turn your Christmas lights off when you go to bed. You can’t enjoy their festive glow while you’re sleeping anyway.
- Organize a carpool for your Christmas party. People will not have to worry about drinking and driving plus you are keeping a few extra cars off of the road.
- Turn off the TV. Christmas is a time to socialize with your family and friends. Commercial breaks just aren’t long enough for that.
- Go treeless. Maybe you have a large indoor plant that would look beautiful all lit up.
- Get a potted Christmas tree and replant it after Christmas is over or decorate one of the trees in your yard (and you don’t have to worry about the replanting).
- Buy a live tree. Artificial trees last much longer but are not biodegradable. Live trees can be recycled and turned into mulch.
- Sending Christmas cards is a long-time tradition but all of those cards just end up in the trash. Start a new tradition and send out e-cards to all of your online friends and family.
- If you must send out actual cards, make sure to buy ones made out of recycled card stock or natural fibers.
- Re-use old Christmas cards to make ornaments, gift tags or new Christmas cards. These family craft projects can be the start of new Christmas traditions in your home.
- Get romantic and serve Christmas dinner by candlelight. The soft glow of the candles will contribute to the dreamy mood and turning off the lights will lower your electric bill.
- Use real dishes and napkins for Christmas dinner. Disposable plates and napkins may make clean up a little quicker but throwaway dishes are bad for the environment.
- Serve local turkey and vegetables. Homegrown produce and poultry will be fresher as it didn’t travel long distances to get to your dinner plate.
- Take the time to package up your leftovers properly. Put some in the fridge and freeze the rest. This will result in less cooking for you later on and less food being thrown in the garbage.
- Use cloth gift bags or even cloth shopping bags instead of wrapping paper. You’ll be able to re-use these again and again instead of throwing the paper out after one use.
- Wrap your present in a scarf, towel, pillowcase or other type of usable item and it can be part of your Christmas present.
- Wrap presents in old newspapers or magazines. Or if you have a budding artist in your household use some of their artistic masterpieces as wrapping paper.
- If you must use Christmas wrapping paper, save what you can and re-use it on other gifts.
- Save ribbons and bows. Most of these look just as good as new even after the gifts are unwrapped. Ribbons and bows can be reused for other gifts throughout the year or for next Christmas.
- Shred your old junk mail to cushion any breakable gifts instead of using bubble wrap or foam peanuts.
- Don’t exchange gifts. Christmas is about spending time with family and friends so organize a gathering and forgo the gifts.
- Plan your shopping trip. Try to run several errands all at once. One stop shopping or visiting several shops in the same outing will result in a better use of your time and consume less gas.
- Buy fewer gifts. Instead of buying for every extended family member, gather folks together and draw names. This way you can give a meaningful gift to one person instead of breaking the bank and buying frivolous, last minute gifts for many.
- Make a wish list and give it to your significant other. They will most likely be purchasing something for you anyway and this will cut down on their stress, their need to drive from store to store and the need for you to return unwanted items. Plus as an added bonus, you will get things that you like and want for Christmas.
- Take re-usable shopping bags with you when you do your Christmas shopping.
- Buy gifts that are not over-packaged. Many kid’s toys are bolted in by plastic, ties and wrap that has to be thrown away once the toy has finally been released from its captivity.
- Buy local gifts. It keeps the money you spend in your community and you’ll feel good knowing that your gift did not need to be transported thousands of miles.
- Buy gifts made out of recycled or re-used materials or make your own.
- Re-gift last years Christmas presents that you didn’t use. And if you don’t feel comfortable re-gifting, then donate them to a local charity.
- Hold a toy swap with your friends and neighbors. This keeps the old toys out of the landfill and the toys are still “new” to the latest receiver.
- Everything old is new again. Find something at the local thrift store or antique shop that still has lots of use left in it. Those vintage earrings may be the perfect addition to your daughter’s retro wardrobe.
- Shop online and have things shipped through the postal service. You will save on your own transportation cost and the mailman passes your house everyday anyway.
- Buy toys that do not use batteries.
- Buy rechargeable batteries for all the electronic gadgets being purchased this year. Rechargeable batteries will keep regular batteries out of the landfill.
- Buy gift certificates or tickets as gifts this Christmas. Who wouldn’t love a day at the spa or tickets to the hockey game?
- Homemade gifts show the receiver that your gift really comes from the heart. And nothing says “I love you” more than homemade cookies or pie.
- For the person who has everything, donate money to a local charity in their name. If you prefer larger charities you can buy a goat for a family, help save some animals from extinction or anything else that helps the planet.
- Give gifts of your time and experience. Help your sibling organize their kitchen, run errands for your elderly neighbor, teach your niece how to knit, offer to babysit for your busy co-worker, you get the idea.