Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but the unintended consequences of our holiday frenzy can also make it the most wasteful time of the year. It it doesn’t have to be.
With approximately $75 billion spent on Christmas gifts, 1.9 billion cards sent, and 20.8 million Christmas trees cut in the U.S. alone, the holiday has an incredible impact on our environment. In the U.S., the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals more than 4 million tons (Eartheasy.com). Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 per cent more trash than any other time of the year. Purchasing items that are over packaged, disposable or even of poor quality means that eventually your gift — and your cash — ends up in the trash.
Green Christmas ideas abound. From gift giving to decorating and more, the first thing to keep in mind is always: Simplify. Making things simple reduces cost, stress and waste. It also makes it easier to remember the true meaning of Christmas!
As Christmas rapidly approaches, here are more ideas for ‘greening up’ your Christmas this year!
• Buy wrap that contains recycled material.
• Avoid buying plastic coated paper and foils.
• Make gift tags from Christmas cards from last year or get the kids to craft gift tags and even cards, or on your computer.
• Use gift boxes, baskets and other containers that can be reused for other purposes.
• Save and reuse gift bags and bows again and again.
• Use scarves or pieces of fabric to wrap gifts.
• Give gift certificates. You will possibly save the recipient the pleasure of standing in one of those return lines.
• Don’t forget to get with your family members before Christmas to pull together items like toys, games, and clothes that are no longer used to give to charities.
• Re-gift responsibly. I have a T-shirt that has the recycle symbol and says this. I am a great believer in re-gifting! I think of it as an expanded form of the 3R’s.
• Support your community and economy by shopping small mom-and-pop stores, especially if those stores also sell locally made items.
• Give money to a charity in honor of your loved one. Sponsor a child overseas or donate to a charity that is meaningful to your friend or loved one. I really like buying goats, chickens, etc., for families in impoverished countries through Heifer International.
• Decrease spending, stress and waste by having family members draw names and sticking to a ‘one gift’ rule. This allows each person to get one thoughtful and unique gift from someone who had the time to dedicate to selecting the gift.
To find out more about making your Holiday ‘green’, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880 4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org or check out http://http//www.keeplibertybeautiful.org .
Swida is executive director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.