How to have a green Christmas

2013-12-23 00:00

BEING green is a good thing these days. It is showing you care about the planet and the environment and you are thinking about the future of our resources. So possibly in the near future you can consider doing a green Christmas.

Celebrating the festive season seems to coincide with a ton of commercialism and a strain on the pocket, which detracts from the good cheer and thoughtfulness of the occasion. Too much excess and wastefulness does not seem like a good way to celebrate a festive time of year when there are many going without.

Celebrating a green Christmas isn’t about going without, but rather it’s about not creating waste at a time of celebration; it is also showing respect for your environment. The added benefits are to cut back on needless spending and also to save your sanity.

There are many good reasons to celebrate a green Christmas. Here are some ideas on how to embrace the “green” theme of Christmas and you will be sure to think up your own ideas as you get into the swing on it.

Reflect on the

meaning of Christmas

If you rush headlong into Christmas every year and feel anxious and cross about money spent and the hassle of shopping, then you need to re-evaluate what you would like to celebrate and how. Take back the real meaning of Christmas — whether it has a religious meaning or is a spiritual time, and make that the focus. Remind everyone why you are doing this so there are no false expectations.

Make time

It’s too easy to let time rush past and then when Christmas is upon us we compensate by buying what we need instead of making what we want. Plan ahead and make gifts with meaning and effort. Putting aside time to make cards, crafts and gifts regularly throughout the year will be time well spent. It will also give the family a sense of achievement as they learn a new skill or recycle something.

Choose an eco-friendly Christmas tree

Some people choose an artificial tree because they feel it is saving a real tree. Others buy trees from Christmas tree farms. When choosing a tree, think about it and decide which is the best choice for you and how it can be recycled. Avoid overdoing the plastic decorations and rather make your own decorations. Remember to turn off tree lights after you go to bed and while you’re out.

Make your own

Christmas decorations

If you can manage to find some time, make your own Christmas decorations as much as possible. Making your own decorations is fulfilling because it’s personal and you get to change them every year. It’s about using your creativity and what is available. There is a lot that you can do at home with existing materials or using recycled materials, and many of these things don’t take much time. Use old magazines, cardboard and ribbons.

You can make

edible ornaments

Half the fun is cooking them, eating bits as you go, and decorating them. The other half is admiring your handiwork spinning on the tree. Ideas include popcorn strings, or simply stringing these food items onto thin gauge wire and shaping it into stars, hearts, etc. And biscuit ornaments are a lot of fun for kids.

Use the garden or natural items from the outdoors for ornaments. Collect pine cones, twigs, berries, sprigs of evergreen plants, red apples, oranges, etc. to create wreaths, centrepieces, simple ornaments, and so on. Simple clusters of pine cones, berries, and evergreen pieces can look very elegant and beat their plastic counterparts hands down; after Christmas, simply toss them back outdoors, no need to clutter your house storing them.

Make your own gifts

Making your own gifts at Christmas time is an excellent way of ensuring they’re eco-friendly and well within budget.

Use your own talents so that whatever you make is enjoyable for you and the results are gift-worthy. If you are a great baker, your friends will appreciate home-baked cookies.

Jam or homemade bread will also go down well. Also consider putting together memorable items in an album.

Give the gift of time. Could someone you know use help around the house? Would someone love to learn something you could teach?

Also make homemade coupons or promise certificates, and be sure to follow on what you’ve promised.

Buy eco-gifts

There are plenty of choices to purchase “green” gifts. Look at the eco-focused stores or visit stores offering eco-friendly gift options, including such items as durable water bottles, organic food, books, recycled paper products, etc.

Another great gift idea is that of donating money to a charity, buying a “gift that keeps on giving” such as a cow or farm pack for people in communities that need help to access drinking water, grow crops or just to live sustainably.

Buy natural

or garden products

Things to help in your garden, such as seeds or garden implements, are great eco-friendly gift choices. Biodegradable, organic, and health-conscious cosmetics, and body and bath products, are a burgeoning industry now, including soaps, shampoos, bath oils, bath salts, perfumes, the ingredients are safe to both humans and the environment. Making up a small basket of such products can be a great way to introduce a friend or family member to new products that have less impact on their health and the environment.

Recycle cards and paper

Re-use old cards and learn how to origami paper into funky ideas. Use recycled wrapping paper. If you still have last year’s paper, give it a quick iron under a towel to remove the worst of the creases. Look for paper products that state that they’re recycled, or use simple recycled brown packaging paper.

Old magazines, newspapers, old posters, or brown paper bags can make stylish wrapping too. Make fabric gift bags and reuse them year after year within your family. Make it a family tradition to gather up the cloth bags after gifts are opened and to return them to their storage basket; this habit won’t take long to be reinforced and expected by everyone.

Minimise your food waste by not buying excessive amounts. Simply confirming how many people are eating will prevent you from preparing too much. Avoid throwing out any leftovers, the majority of foods can be kept for several days if refrigerated.

Consider having more vegetarian food at Christmas. Eating more grains, vegetables, and fruit is not only healthy but will help to reduce your energy consumption, for meat takes a lot more water and energy to produce than plant foods.

If you have any unwanted presents, don’t bin them, donate them to your local charity shop instead.


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