Following is a list of ideas on ways to green your Christmas. Because it’s a comprehensive list, there’s sure to be one or two ideas you can use without much effort.
Decorating your home
- Create your own decorations using:
- Ornaments made from old greeting cards, used holiday lights, or cookie dough.
- Garlands made from popcorn or cranberries.
- Use LED lights. Recycle the old lights responsibly (here are some options).
- Put lights on a timer.
- Buy a living tree (that you plant in spring) or decorate a large plant.
- Reuse old CD’s by attaching them to Christmas lights for added illumination.
- Buy local goods (made in your town, province, or country).
- Buy durable and timeless goods (items that are poorly made or are the latest trend may end up in the landfill in a few years).
- Provide a thoughtful service or entertainment, rather than buying products.
- Vouchers for services: massage/acupuncture, gardening, housecleaning, food delivery.
- Tickets: movies, concerts, sports events, theatre.
- Memberships: gyms, charities, sports clubs, zoos, museums, galleries.
- Personal favour vouchers: 3 hours of childcare, 2 breakfasts in bed, a month of lawn mowing, 4 car washes.
- Gifts that give: charity donations, overseas aid project sponsorships and donations, memberships and subscriptions to environmental organizations.
- Favourite home cooked meal.
- Make something yourself such as baked goods or a piece of art.
- Consolidate your shopping trips and save fuel.
- Use only reusable cloth bags.
- Avoid items that are over-packaged in non-recyclable, low-grade plastics.
- Turn your old greeting cards or decorative tissue boxes into creative one-of-a-kind gift tags.
- Wash and cut foil potato chip bags to create your own ribbons.
- Avoid purchasing wrapping paper – make your own using maps, newspaper comics, old calendars, or magazines.
- Make the wrapping a part of the gift by using tea towels, scarves etc., try the Japanese art of furoshiki
- Use organic cloth or rice bags for wrapping paper.
- If wrapping paper must be purchased, avoid metallics, glitter and foil embellishments (they cannot be recycled).
- Save your paper and ribbons for reuse next year.
Cooking and Baking
- Use ingredients that are:
- Locally grown (within 160 kilometres).
- Fair Trade (especially sugar and chocolate!).
- Fetched sustainably (i.e. you walked/cycled/bussed to the store; you purchased from a local retailer/farm vs. a chain store).
- Low on waste (i.e. you purchased ingredients with minimal packaging; you do not use disposable containers/wrapping to bake or display your goods).
Sending Cards or Packages
- Forget greeting cards!
- pick up the phone.
- send an email or e-card.
- create a video message (stay tuned for the Meebs’ Season’s Greetings video).
- If sending cards is a die-hard tradition
- save old holiday cards and create new ones by cutting them in half to make post-cards (no envelope required)!
- Buy cards made with post-consumer content.
- Reuse cardboard boxes for mailing gifts.
- For packaging, use air-popped popcorn, in place of Styrofoam packing chips, and then the recipient can feed the popcorn to the birds!
- Mailing gift certificates or tickets will save on packaging and postage.
Hosting or Attending Parties
- Instead of opting for paper and plastic, use dishes, silverware and cloth napkins. Don’t have enough reusable dishes for everyone? No problem! Make it BYOP, and have everyone bring their own plates, forks and cups. This might just become a new Christmas tradition with friends; silly at first but something everyone can appreciate.
- Walk to parties or carpool (with a designated driver).
Getting rid of that used tree
- If you have a cut tree, remember to recycle it after the holidays instead of sending it to the landfill. Check with your community and find out if they collect and mulch trees.
Replacing old electronics
- If you plan to purchase a new computer this year, please consider donating your still-operable computer to a charity that will refurbish it for use in schools or libraries, such as Computers For Schools, Free Geek.
- Old electronics (list of accepted items vs. non-accepted items) can be brought in for recycling in BC at these locations.
Making a Green New Year’s Resolution