after a long – and grateful – november, i am so excited december is here. it is my favorite time of year. the snow blankets our little valley, allowing me to feel not guilty for wanting to cozy up in my log cabin of a home next to the fireplace. as always after thanksgiving, i begin thinking about what size tree we will bring home to decorate. but then i realized, i would be purchasing a tree that needed cutting down to simply light my living room for a month before i discard it – hopefully at some recycling center. and as i began pulling out my Christmas decorations, i quickly realized these were not decorations that symbolize what i believe in nor what i support as becoming more sustainble in my choices. with a simple Pinterest search, i am now ready to take on this holiday sustainably.
before i throw you some awesome eco-friendly holiday tips, let’s take a quick glance at the statistics of waste from our lovely holiday season.
- the amount of trash produced during the holidays in the United States increases by an estimated 25%—that’s about one million extra tons of garbage each week.
- annually, americans discard an estimated:
- 38,000 miles of ribbon, or enough to wrap around the planet (with some left for a bow)
- $11 billion worth of packing material – enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields
- $2.65 billion on Christmas cards – enough to fill a football field 10 stories high
- 15 million used Christmas trees
now on to the good stuff…
- give a gift of experience!
- movie tickets
- concert tickets
- sporting event tickets
- dinner (bonus if home-cooked)
- escape rooms
- national park entrance fees
- amusement park fees
- health spas – massage, acupuncture, facials
- donate or volunteer
- gifts with an environmental message
- nature books
- a refillable thermos bottle
- a canvas tote bag
- a battery recharger
- items made from recycled materials
- choose solar powered instead of battery powered products
- environmentally-smart gifts
- homebaked cookies, bread or jams
- a plant or tree to plant later
- bus/light rail/train pass
- bicycle or walking shoes
- IOU to help rake leaves or repair a leaky faucet
- candles, soap, or seeds for next year’s garden
- a local artist’s creations
- gift tags
- cut off the front of any holiday cards you received in the previous year – the card’s decorative front will spruce up your gift, and you can write the recipient’s name on the blank side.
- skip the tag all together and write on the gift wrap!
- gift wrap
- local daily newspaper
- recycled paper from last year
- colorful pages torn from magazines
- old maps
- decorative tins, baskets or boxes
- if you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper
- ones made of recycled paper
- avoid cards with glossy, shiny or gold foil coatings since these cannot be recycled.
- save the cards that you get in the mail, cut off the front pictures, and reuse as “postcards” next year
- electronic cards
- jibjab.com has hilarious video cards
- 123greetings.com has free greating cards
- bluemountain.com has adorable customizable cards
- americangreetings.com has ecards for any occasion
- phone call instead!
- visit your local nursery to purchase a tree that can be planted in the summer (if you don’t have an area to plant – donate it to someone who can)
- if you must buy a cut down tree, be sure to bring it to a recycling center to be mulched and used for water conservation and weed control.
- if you go artificial – make sure it is something you will keep forever or sell to someone else. keep in mind, these artifical trees can be covered in chemcials toxic to you and your pets.
- creative decorations
- tree wreath: use the boughs on the bottom of your tree to make a wreath. decorate it with pinecones, nuts, and a raffia bow.
- edible ornaments: think beyond popcorn and cranberries for the tree with ornaments of dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks. beautiful and fragrant!
- cloth-wrapped ornaments: cover ornament forms with narrow strips of burlap or muslin, and attach a jute loop for hanging.
- wall tree: tack some short branches or driftwood on the wall. decorate with lights (or not!), dried flowers, feathers, and pine cones. or make a stand-alone driftwood tree.
- burlap stockings: on the mantle, hang burlap stockings that are lined with muslin or sheeting. fill to overflowing with greens.
- green mantle display: display different types of greens in a variety of glass vases and canisters on top of the mantle.
- pinecone display: fill a bowl with pinecones, pomegranates, red and green apples, and nuts, and top with a raffia bow to use as an accent or a centerpiece.
if you have creative ideas or are looking for some, please leave a comment below!
have a happy winter solstice and christmas 🙂