So, how do I have a "Green" Christmas? Check out these green holiday tips below:
- Christmas Tree- Approximately 35 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States and Canada every year. Wouldn't it be great if everyone recycled their live tree? Check Earth911.com for your local resource.
- Cardboard boxes- Corrugated cardboard is used for packaging, shipping and most popularly, pizza! Cardboard is naturally biodegradable, but also easily recycled. Before you recycle cardboard, make sure it's not wet or soiled by food or oil. In other words, you may be able to recycle the tops of your pizza boxes, but not the greasy bottom part.
- Gift Bags- You'll especially want to recycle the ones that get torn (as long as they don't contain foil, they should be accepted by your local recycling center, but you should check to be sure). Otherwise, you reuse them!
- Gifts- Let's face it, we can't always use (or like) the gifts that we receive. Instead of shoving these unwanted items to the back of your closet, you can either re-gift (be sure that you don't re-gift to the original giver) or donate these items to someone who can use them.
- Gift boxes- Most gift boxes are made of paperboard, which is a thick, paper-like material that's often used to make cereal boxes. It's easily recycled and accepted by most curbside recycling programs.
- Gift bags- I love pretty gift bags, but they can be costly (some are over $10/ per bag)! I save them and reuse them from year-to-year, this can save $100 or more.
- Bows, ribbon and tissue paper- Tissue paper can be folded neatly and placed in saved gift bags or boxes for the next usage. Bows should be placed in a box to prevent them from being smashed. Ribbon can be wrapped around the cardboard toilet paper rolls, to prevent them from becoming a tangled mess.
- Wrapping Paper- Wrapping paper that doesn't get ripped off by excited kids can be folded and saved for the next season. Considering the fact that most gifts are for the young (or young-at-heart), you may consider foregoing traditional wrapping paper altogether and reusing newspaper (try the comics section for the kiddies). You can also use old wallpaper scraps.
- Ornaments- I know someone (who will remain unnamed....okay it was me) who used to have a different color scheme each year for her Christmas decorations. One year, everything was silver, blue and white. Another year, red and gold and so on. Instead of going out and purchasing these different items from year-to-year, I decided to solicit the things I needed from relatives, friends and the thrift store. I also keep the special ones, i.e., ones made by my children, for reuse every year. Also, you can list wanted items on a great (FREE) resource called Freecycle. Join your local group today!
- Toys- Big-ticket items like riding toys (think Barbie Jeeps for girls and Tonka Trucks for boys) that are quickly outgrown, can cost as much as $300.00! These items can often be found at your local thrift stores and consignment shops.
- Packing materials- Reuse packing materials for those gifts that have to be shipped. UPS has a recycling program for packing peanuts, etc. Visit their site for more information: http://www.ups.com/.
- Upgrading to LED Christmas Lights. Did you know that traditional Christmas lights can add over $50.00 to your monthly electric bill?
- Don't forget to turn your thermostat down when you're away from home.
- Turning off all lights, computers, other unneeded appliances when you're away from home, as well.
- When doing your Christmas cooking, make use of residual heat from your oven by cooking items back-to-back. You can also bake a couple of items at a time to conserve energy.
- Make sure your dishwasher is fully loaded each time you use it.
- Send post card greetings instead of greeting cards and save lots of paper and postage, too.
- Buying locally-made, fair-trade or organic products can make one-of-a-kind gifts that will more than likely not require as much packaging for shipping.
- Try to use as many reusable (not disposable) dishes, as possible for holiday parties and gatherings. If you need disposable items, you can purchase biodegradable ones. Styrofoam is the WORST thing you buy, as it's not biodegradable at all and sits in landfills for hundreds of years.
- Eliminate waste caused by wrapping paper by using fabric reusable gift bags. Gratitude Gift Bags has some amazing ones!
I'm sure there are more really cool green holiday ideas out there, so please share yours by leaving a comment! Happy Holidays!