Pretty lights, trees, glittering ornaments, and brightly wrapped packages are all signs of the holiday season ahead. For some people, they are essential. As we begin to look for more ways to live greener lives, though, these things become a bit of a concern for many families.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up all the sights, sounds, and scents of the season in order to have holidays that are as green as your Christmas tree. In fact, you can have an even greener Christmas tree this year. We’ll show you how – along with several other things you can do to make this holiday season greener.
Before the decorations come out of their careful packaging, it’s time for us to do a bit of serious cleaning and updating to the home. It is part preparation for guests, and part of the process for many families as the decorating begins. These simple solutions will make the homemaking a little bit greener this time around.
Use Natural Cleaning Products
Oddly enough there are many natural products you probably have in your home that are excellent for helping to get your home sparkling clean. Vinegar, baking soda, water, and lemons are fundamental necessities for anyone interested in natural cleaning. They can be used alone or in combination with one another to tackle different tasks around your home – including things like deodorizing, scrubbing, and even eliminating tough coffee and/or tea stains.
There are also many natural product companies around that sell products designed for cleaning naturally. Some great companies that specialize in natural cleaning products include:
- Seventh Generation
- The Honest Company
- Meyer’s Clean Day
Choosing greener cleaning products makes a difference for the planet, and helps to clear the air inside your home.
Purchase Sheets and Bedding that are Planet Friendly
There are all kinds of materials that are excellent choices for sheets and bed linens. They are made with planet friendly products and methods. These include materials like:
- Egyptian Cotton
- Organic Cotton
- 100 Percent Cotton
These are great for use in guest bedrooms during the holidays, and can help you do your part for the planet.
Recycle and Compost
The holidays offer many opportunities to recycle paper products and goods and composting is a given. Nature.org reminds us that it helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, and anything that does that is good for the planet and the air we breathe.
Another great thing about continuing this tradition is that doing so while guests are around helps to show others just how easy it is to work into the daily routine, and educate them about the good it does for the planet. You can even recruit children visiting during the holidays to help for a couple of extra dollars or even the promise of extra holiday treats.
Give Greener Gifts
There are many different ways you can go about giving gifts that are greener. Some of them may surprise you. These are a few favorites you might want to consider.
Give Handmade Gifts
The gifts do not need to be made from your own hands to be a perfectly green gift choice. There are many crafting sites online, like Etsy.com, GlobalGoodsPartners.org, and iCraftGifts.com where you can purchase handmade gifts for practically anyone on your list. Don’t forget to support local craftsmen at community art shows, flea markets, and holiday craft expos. Supporting local artisans means that money stays in the community and reduces the carbon footprints of the gifts you buy.
There are many beautiful options to choose from and the gifts themselves often feel more personal because they are handmade.
Adopt an Attitude of Less is More
It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving. That’s a good thing to do. Sometimes, focusing on quality over quantity can make for a much more meaningful holiday experience for everyone. Instead of giving a ton of gifts, try to make each gift memorable instead.
The Sierra Club explains that re-gifting is a great way to allow gifts that may be unwanted by you to keep on giving. The fact that a gift doesn’t appeal to you or an item is no longer useful to you, doesn’t mean that it won’t be useful or wanted by someone on your holiday shopping list – or for gifts you offer to community charity events.
Buy Fair Trade Gifts for the Holidays
Fair trade items go beyond being earth-friendly products. When you purchase fair trade items, you’re ensuring that the people who labor to make, farm, or produce the products are paid fair living wages too. Everyone wins when fair trade items like coffee, chocolate, produce, sweeteners, clothing, tea, and spices. FairTradeUSA.org offers a nice guide for shopping fair trade products.
Draw Names for Gifts
Buying fewer gifts for extended family members helps to ease the cost burden of Christmas, while eliminating the wastefulness of gifts that aren’t spot on perfect for family members you don’t know quite as well. The same can be done for circles of friends or at the office.
Among close friends and family you could agree to go out and have a great meal together instead of buying gifts for each other this year. EarthEasy.com recommends the policy of drawing names for adult gifts while keeping children below a certain age on the list everyone to buy gifts for.
Decorating for the Holidays
Holiday decorations are lovely to look at and an important holiday tradition for most families. The good news is that you don’t have to give them up in order to enjoy a greener holiday. You may need to make a few adjustments though. These are all great places to begin.
Consider a Live Christmas Tree
This is a better choice for people who prefer to wait a little closer to the main event to decorate their trees, but is a real boon for the planet. Once you remove the decorations, simply plant the tree. The Daily Press suggests that the trend of living Christmas trees is growing. The article also explains proper procedures for planting the tree. People who suffer from allergies may choose to decorate the trees outside, and use other decorations inside the home.
Use Mother Nature’s Bounty for Decorating
Nature provides many great bounties for decorating homes for the holidays. Many of them are closely associated with the holidays in your hearts and minds already. Things like pine cones, sticks, strawberries, and more can be used for decorating trees, mantles, and even gifts.
Switch to LED Lights
LED lights put off less heat making them a reduced fire risk, and they cost less to operate because they require less energy. This makes them a real winner for homes that use a lot of lights during the holiday season. Some might even say they produce much brighter and more beautiful lights, too. If you want to take things one step further, considering using solar powered LED lights for exterior holiday lighting.
Invest in Timers
This is a good idea for all holiday lights from the Christmas tree to garlands and all lights in between. Using timers means that lights do not come on before a certain time each night, and will always go out at a certain time, too. This helps to reduce the electricity used to light up your home during the holidays, and that’s a great thing for the planet. Another benefit of using timers is that no one knows whether you’re home for the holidays or not.
Use Natural Fragrances
An important part of decorating the home for the holidays is to capture the scents of the season. Fragrance is an important tool for evoking memories and eliciting emotional responses. Use natural fragrances like simmering pots with orange slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or cranberries and vanilla to bring in the season. Even placing a basket of pine tree branches and pine cones in the room can make the area smell like the holidays.
Another option is to use essential oils and diffusers. Essential oils are natural products that produce an impressive amount of fragrance. Find the fragrance combination that best speaks of holiday’s past to you, and let that be your scent for the season.
Gift Wrapping Gone Green
Wrapping gifts is one of the most important holiday traditions. Commercial wrapping paper is often a one-and-done type of deal. You use it once, and it goes to the recycling bin (as a best choice) or the garbage collection bin once the festivities have ended. These clever tactics will have your gifts shining this season, and you’ll feel great about the way you’ve wrapped them and what it means for the planet.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose
You’ll be amazed at the wide range of everyday items you can repurpose into holiday gift wrapping. Last year’s ribbons, bows, bags, and tags, for instance, are great items to begin with. Doing this alone does two wonderful things for the planet. One: It keeps these items out of landfills – at least for another holiday season. Two: It conserves the resources that were used to create them in the first place since replacements aren’t necessary.
Think Outside the Holiday Wrapping Roll
Your gift wrap doesn’t need to begin with holiday scenes or bright Christmas colors like reds and greens. Simple newspaper can be recycled for use as holiday wrapping, and you can choose the colors you’d like to use. Another great choice is to use the comic pages from your Sunday paper, and leave it as it is. As the holidays approach, there are likely to be holiday themes in the comics that are perfect for gift wrap.
Decorate, Paint, and Stamp Brown Paper Bags
More stores are returning to the standard of brown paper bags instead of plastic. While the outside may be printed with store branding, the inside is often a blank slate that you can convert into a canvas for wrapping gifts, and then decorating the package. Once you’ve stamped, painted, or drawn until your holiday heart is content, you can add a twine made from jute to complete the planet-friendly packaging.
Use Cloth for Wrapping Presents
Gaiam.com points out that this practice presents a whole new world of gifting and giftwrap opportunities. You can use colorful scarves that are meant to be gifts themselves as wrapping for one option. But you can use any fabric that is the right size for wrapping the gift. One really cute idea is to visit a local thrift store, and buy up their supply of “ugly Christmas sweaters” for cutting them into squares to use for wrapping. You could also use fabric remnants from Christmas crafting projects. The sky is the limit.
Consider Greener Options for Holiday Cards and Tags
It’s natural to want to share season’s greetings with friends and family near and far. In the past, Christmas cards were the tools of choice for doing just that. Today, though, people are dedicated to making more planet-minded choices about sharing those greetings. Consider including them with recycled cards or gift tags on holiday presents.
Another option is to consider plantable gift cards, like those available at ForeverFiances.com. Simply invite the recipient to plant the card after the holidays are over in order to enjoy a nice surprise later. It doesn’t get much greener than this!
Lastly, consider sending e-Greetings this holiday season. Far fewer fossil fuels are used in the process, and the sentiment is just the same. Of course, it’s important to purchase a few card greetings for loved ones who haven’t embraced technology, and may feel a little left out otherwise.
Going green for the holidays is far more than a simple state of mind. It’s a matter of choice that does require a little action and creativity, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up the most important traditions and practices in order to achieve it. In fact, you just might discover that your efforts to go greener this holiday season motivates others to do the same in future holiday celebrations.
Happy Holidays to You and Yours from PlushBeds!
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