I wrote a guest post for Yummy Mummy a few weeks ago and I’m so grateful because the topic was ‘greening your Christmas’ and it helped me set a plan for this Christmas. I think these steps can help anyone, no matter where you are on your greener journey, so please take a look at these suggestions. I’ve added a few more since the Yummy Mummy article as I had an epiphany of sorts thinking about Black Friday shopping this year. If you follow me on Facebook – you’d know this stuff!
How will I get rid of it?
If you are shopping for someone in your home (kids, spouse, etc.) ask yourself this one question “how will I get rid of it?” In this article, we learned that from day 1 after purchasing anything to 6 months later, we are only still using 1% of our purchases. The Story Of Stuff video asks us to look at our consumerism and wonder if it’s possible that 99% of ‘stuff’ we purchase is trashed? If this staggering fact is true, asking ourselves this one question every time we shop is so important. Do you want to know something scary? At the end of the summer, my household was trying to purge old toys that we’ve had for years and took them to the local thrift store. They turned away all of our toys because they simply had too many. Have we junked so many household items that the donation stores are now full? Now what do we do with them? Before you purchase that plastic toy, fake Christmas tree, fake Christmas wreath, inflatable anything, plastic nick-knacks…ask yourself the question. In North American society we need to become responsible for our own crap. You bring it into your home and life – you are responsible for it’s disposal. I think this will be a huge trend for 2012…we see examples of a greener society and supporting local for 2011. I believe responsibility of one’s own garbage will be huge for 2012.
From The Kitchen
Did you know it’s cool to can? Harkening back to how our grandparents thanked the special people in their lives is making a comeback. Christmas baking, canning, layered ingredients & attaching the recipe in a mason jar is a wonderful and healthy way to say I love you this holiday season. It’s really the reason why I sourced these beautiful mason jar inserts. Adding a splash of ‘hip’ to a classic idea is never a bad idea and these inserts are gorgeous! Also a very cool way to make baked goods healthier is not adding synthetic food coloring to frosting, icing, etc. This is now easy with all natural food dye!
Gifts That Give Memories
Do you still remember the first time you saw The Nutcracker or first professional football/hockey game? Are you trying to encourage your child’s love for nature or a local aquarium? Giving gifts that will give a child experiences or a memory is a magical thing. Check your local ticket master and checkout if a play, sports event, Disney On Ice, ballet, symphony, etc. is happening between Dec – Feb. I would have never thought my boys would be interested in a symphony, but it was their favorite field trip of all time from school. I think children just love something different and if they’re getting quality time from a special adult in their life – even better!
Holiday décor is a wonderful opportunity to bring the outdoors inside! Go on a pinecone, acorn, and leaf expedition around your neighborhood and see what you find. Line the middle of your table with gifts from the earth that can later be composted. Replace traditions that involve disposable décor; paper holiday crackers can be replaced by reusable felt crackers, cloth napkins & advent calendars, and earth friendly decorations crafted with reusable cotton.
Gifts Wrapped Up
Think outside the box this year with gift-wrap. Imagine the tons of waste after each family opens gifts Christmas morning and the environmental impact. Reuse what you already have or invest in reusable gift-wrap. Start traditions within your family and trade cloth Santa Sacks that can be used every year and passed down as heirloom gift-wrapping solutions. Have an old sheet of fabric not being used? Discover the art of tying knots to wrap gifts called furochic. Start early with Christmas crafts and have your children paint craft paper or use newspapers for greener gift presentation. If you don’t have time to get crafty, source gift wrap or gift bags that have seeds embedded. Kids love the concept of giving items that friends or relatives can plant!
The plastic packaging surrounding a gift indicates the quality of the gift inside. Toys that are packaged in plastic, bound with plastic ties is a reflection of what’s inside. Talk to your family and children about how gifts are commercially packaged. Discourage gifts that are surrounded by non-recyclable, wasteful packaging. Encourage gifts that have been gently used. Shopping for gifts 2nd hand is wonderful for helping to reuse what we already have on this planet and great for staying on budget.
Select a few gifts on your list and make sure they are manufactured locally. Seek out companies that not only ‘design’ locally – but also look for items ‘manufactured’ local. Finding a gift that has been hand crafted is a great feeling for both the person purchasing the gift and receiving! Many locally made gifts have a wonderful story – make sure the recipient learns the story of why and how the gift was created.
It’s the age-old debate: fake or real Christmas trees? Which one is better for the environment? Since learning that all fake Christmas trees are made from PVC – a toxic material that releases dioxin – my view is this: if you are currently enjoying a fake tree, by all means keep reusing! If you need to purchase a new Christmas tree, visit a local tree farm. Or switch things up this year and decorate a tree outside. Here is a full article on why fake trees are toxic.
Make this holiday truly memorable by shopping in a way that feels good. Big box shopping can be cheaper, but does it give you a good feeling like supporting a smaller store or business? Are there areas you can green and the effect will ripple? Think of your child’s classroom – most holiday gift or card exchanges are very environmentally unfriendly. Select plantable cards and organic candy canes so allergies aren’t a problem. Keeping things unique, magical, fun, and green is easy this year!