Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Every year people across the world celebrate Christmas with lots of “stuff”. The aftermath of all that celebrating is extra trash that goes into our landfills. Holiday decorating and gifts are an area where you can go “green” by producing less waste. So, before running out to buy expensive ornaments and gifts, consider making your own out of biodegradable or recycled materials. See what clever Christmas items you can make with materials you have laying around your house.

Many natural items make great eco-friendly decorations. Simply cutting shapes out of salt dough or apple cinnamon dough, baking and adding a ribbon can make a wonderful tree ornament. Stringing popcorn and fresh cranberries together or dried apple and orange slices will make a beautiful garland. Old light bulbs can be painted and turned into Santa or Snowman ornaments. Socks can be given new life as snow people. Not only are you helping the environment, you have an opportunity to show your creativity and individuality.

Burlap is a traditional and inexpensive material that can be used in a variety of ways during Christmas. It is rustic but very charming. You can cut out the shape of a Christmas stocking, hand-stitch along the edges with twine, add a personal touch by sewing on a letter using any material you have around the house and your stocking is done!

Burlap is also a great way to wrap presents; it gives the perfect traditional look and can be used year after year. Another waste-reducing idea is not to wrap your presets at all. Instead, consider creative ways to hide your presents, like hiding them around the house to be looked for in a scavenger hunt (this doubles as a way to burn off some of those Christmas calories!)

When it comes to Christmas trees, most people assume cutting down a live tree is bad for the environment; however, this is not true. Most live trees are produced on farms specifically for the purpose of growing trees and new saplings are planted to take the place of the ones cut down. In addition, the trees cut down are biodegradable and not made of harmful plastics like their artificial counterparts. Many places have live potted Christmas trees that can be replanted in your yard after Christmas. Try not to burn your discarded Christmas tree as it releases dangerous toxins into the air.

A great way to reduce waste is making your own gifts. Baked goods make a thoughtful gift that doesn’t produce much trash at all, and if you know a practical skill like knitting or sewing, consider making clothes for friends and family. Or why not give the gift  of quality time? By giving gifts that can be experienced, like tickets to a show or a homemade dinner, you can minimize wrapping and still win points with the receiver. If you are going to buy gifts try not to buy things that someone will lose interest in or break easily and then throw away, like the newest fad technology. Consider buying something that is useful and will last.

So with a few modifications this year, we can help reduce the amount of waste that is produced during the holiday. Plus, when the winter wind is howling, making creative up-cycling crafts is a fun, cozy way to spend an evening with the family.

This holiday season, give the greatest gift of all: a gift to Mother Nature.

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