As Christmas is fast approaching and we all have been taught from a very young age that this is the holiday of giving, you might find yourself looking for ideas and searching for the perfect gifts for your loved ones, often driving for hours around town, looking for wrapping paper, tape, decorations, fairy lights and everything else. Although it’s the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on our planet. By using your imagination and putting in a little effort, we can reduce the environmental impact of the winter holidays.
Have a look at some of the easiest and most fun ideas that you could implement this winter for a ‘Greener’ Christmas.
1. Thoughtful Gifts
Kids may love the shiny, store bought items, but adults are more likely to be the happiest when receiving a gift that shows thoughtfulness.
Here’s a list of awesome ideas for meaningful holiday gifts that cannot be found of store shelves and are amazingly clutter free:
· Concert Tickets
· Sporting Tickets
· Theatre Tickets
· Indoor Rock Climbing
· Hot Air Balloon Ride
· Dance Classes
· Painting or Art Classes
· Manicure & Pedicure
· Membership at National Parks/Art Museum
· Local Foods
Some gifts may fill in a practical role and need to be bought new, but with a little creativity you can give more and spend less.
At the end of the day it’s memories that we will cherish forever, rather than object we possess.
2. Buy locally made gifts
By buying locally you will not only support local businesses and families, but you will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your presents. No added cost of transportation is the key when looking for sustainable gifts, therefore local artisan shops and craft fairs are the way to go. These also have the added value of knowing the story of how the gift was made and who made it.
3. ‘Battery-Free’ Gifts
As we all know, recycling batteries has been a real struggle ever since the era of battery run toys. Battery sales rise by 40% during the holiday season, which later discarded might be an environmental hazard, finding their ways into the waste streams eventually.
Wooden toys, small musical instruments, colouring books paired with some great colouring pencils make the best gifts and will occupy kids for a longer time, than the battery run, one time wonder toys.
4. Connect with Nature
Christmas is the time of giving and connecting with your family. This time of the year is the perfect opportunity to start a family tradition that gives back to our planet and introduces the ethics of sustainable living to all of your family members, from kids to grown-ups.
The following ideas are will not only get you outdoors to build up an appetite for Christmas dinner but are also earth friendly.
· Family Nature Hike
· Nature Restoration Activity
· Decorate a Tree for Birds, Chipmunks and Squirrels
Place seed bells, pine cones with peanut butter, and seed trays on any tree in your yard, preferably a tree in the open where cats can be seen easily by the birds. To attract a wide variety of birds, use varied seed types such as black oil sunflower seed, wild bird mixed seed. This is a great activity for kids, and offers an important food source for birds during the winter.
5. Less Outdoor Lighting Displays
Remember when the house with the most decorative holiday lights used to be the ‘coolest’? Yeah, that’s totally 2000, because electricity drains natural resources.
Just by using LED holiday lights you can save up to up to 95% of your energy usage. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs.
Another great way to save on the electricity bill is to turn off all the lights inside and outside the house after everyone’s gone to sleep.
6. Choose a Live Tree
Another way to make Christmas more sustainable is to buy a live potted tree. Norfolk Pine is a great addition to the house all year round and they can just simply be decorated for Christmas. This also eliminates the need to cut a tree each year or to buy a fake plastic tree, saving valuable resources.
Buying plastic Christmas Trees might sound like a better option, but real trees, especially if you are able to buy them in a pot and keep them/re-pot them for many years are a more sustainable option.
Plastic trees are made of petroleum products (PVC), and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.
Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. Live trees also smell like Christmas!
7. Alternatives to Wrapping Paper
How many old pieces of clothing have thrown out because there was a stain one them or got partially damaged?
Imagine how you could use the rest of those as wrapping material. All you need is a pair of scissors and some creativity. Since the clothes couldn’t have been used anymore, they make great material for creating wrapping and decorations.
Gift bags can also be made using fabric scraps, or wrapping can be made using comic strips from the paper, old calendars, maps, posters and more.
Fabric gift bags make beautiful, personal, and unique gift wraps for all gift-giving occasions. Even better, they’re reusable and made of recycled materials.
Furoshiki is another great way to wrap your gifts. More versatile than regular gift bags, furoshiki fabric lays flat and doesn’t come sewn or with drawstrings. This means you can adjust each piece smaller or larger within confines of material simply by wrapping.
A variety of tutorials exist for furoshiki wrapping styles, but to complete the most basic wrap, place your gift in the centre of a piece of fabric and draw up one set of opposite corners, tying snugly. Draw the other opposite corners into the centre and repeat.
Easy Gift Wrapping Alternatives
· Old Maps
· Recycled Gift Wrap
· Old Tea Towels and Cloth Napkins
Natural Finishing touches can give your gifts that pop of colour it may lack. Pine cones, fir or cedar branch tips, dried oak or maple leaves and other small natural pieces can be tied together with twist-ties and secured to the package.
Hope this inspires you to spend more ti e with your loved ones and be a little more creative this Christmas!