We could all use a little more green in our lives, and the holiday season is the perfect way to start, if you haven’t been practicing lately. We are taught to envision everything pretty about the holidays. Presents wrapped in gorgeous paper, outfitted with bows and string, completed with a holiday tag. Holiday cards mailed around the globe and tacked up on refrigerator doors. Trees and ornaments and light bulbs aglow. Decorations from door to door, mostly made up of plastic bits and baubles. Here are some alternative ways to holiday festivities, with just a little bit of mindfulness added in.
- Design your own JOYEUX holiday e-card. While I love getting a tangible card in the mail, it is important to realize that mailing letters back and forth could be harmful to the environment. I heard that more than a billion Christmas cards are sent in one holiday season, enough to wrap around the world five times. Maybe skip the paper cards and go with an electronic version this year. Everyone (or well, nearly everyone) now has access to some techy device or other. Why not e-mail or text a home-made holiday e-card? Make it a whole day thing, by doing a mini family photo shoot at home and then working together to create the perfect saying and look.
- Shop responsibly. If you must buy someone a present this year for Christmas because that is what they wish for, do so responsibly. I carry around a number of reusable tote bags in my car at all times, so that when I go shopping, I never accept one-time use packaging for the stuff. Some stores insist on wrapping your recently purchased clothes in tissue paper. Kindly ask to skip. Also skip the free wrapping, after all, it’s not actually “free” because it does come with a cost to the environment. Instead, gently place your recent purchase in your re-usable bag and voila, off you go. Also, try to avoid multiple runs to different stores. If you could get all shopping that you need done in one go, that would really decrease the amount of driving around we do, which will then limit the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere. Some opt to shop online, which is great because it reduces the driving around, but only on your part. Remember that shipping products does cost gas and there are inefficiencies tied with clicking that free amazon prime two day shipping. Shop early and elect for regular five day shipping, which allows trucks to fill their load completely and make shipping more efficient. Otherwise, trucks would have to leave before they are able to fill their maximum capacity, just to get to your door on time, thereby increasing the number of trips and gas used to deliver packages. Also, opt out of gift wrapping, and if possible, choose products packaged in sustainable materials. Call in the companies and request no plastic. An even better solution? Opt for gifts from the heart rather than material gifts. Offer a service to a family member. Gift them tickets that support local events such as a play or a musical or games to their favorite sport team. Gift them items you already own but they could make more use out of or that they need more than you do. Donate under their name to charity. Skip the gift all together.
- Recycled [wrapping] paper. I am all for recycled wrapping things. I was the weirdo at the get-togethers, collecting bows and string and nice wrapping paper and gift bags for re-use. I’ve successfully handed back a gift bag I received to the same person who gave it to me plenty a time. It adds a little laughter to the whole occasion. My favorite thing to do is to grab my box of bows and scrounge for the perfect one to match the current wrapping material that I have. Other alternatives to wrapping paper – newspapers, magazines, or kraft paper. Alternative to bows: jute. If you want to feel more festive, why not add an organic thing tied with a string [see: rosemary or thyme in your local produce aisle. Or perhaps a sprig of lavender]. Or do the better thing, and just skip wrapping paper all together!
- Go bare, or barely. I love seeing beautiful Christmas trees in the parking lot or on the grocery store, before they’ve been decorated aplenty. Too much décor can be quite overwhelming and can take away some of the magic in my opinion. Try going bare this year, or barely decorated. Don’t get caught up with covering every part of the tree. Let it run naked and free. Likewise with the rest of the décor in your house. Try not to run your electricity bill up the wazoo by keeping your holiday lights on at all times. Avoid keeping up with the Joneses, it’s not worth it. Go out on a hike with friends and family and collect natural woodsy things, like berries and pinecones, to decorate house and tree with. Tie string to them and hang from the branches if you must. Or decorate your house with scents of sugar cookies and puzzle pieces on the floor, in progress of being completed with the complementary sounds of Christmas music.
- Go with a real tree this year. Trees take seven to ten years to grow, can have a positive impact on the environment, and are bio-degradable compared to their plastic counterparts. However, they must be disposed of responsibly! If they are simply thrown away or allowed to rot, then they will have a negative impact on the environment, and that’s definitely something worth noting. Or like every other advice above, maybe go without? If you learned the saying, “it isn’t Christmas without a tree”, then you haven’t yet learned the true meaning of Christmas. Go out and find it!
Any other green ideas? I’d love to hear yours!