Earth-Friendly Christmas

If you want to give the whole world a Christmas gift, celebrate in ways that don't harm the environment.


Our ideas and suggestions are just the beginning of things you can do for Mother Earth. The biggest step of all is simply to cut down on the amount of things -- presents, decorations, and just plain "stuff" -- you buy.

Gifts:
Enlarge Image You might make a natural wreath as a gift.
  • Use recycled or recyclable materials for packaging and the gift itself.
  • Choose or make gifts that are practical and consist of environmentally friendly materials. For example, assemble the dry ingredients for cookies or soup in a Mason jar and top it with scraps of seasonal fabric, ribbon, and a pine cone. Or fill a wicker basket with a wooden massage tool, herbal tea, an unbleached towel, and sea-salt bath crystals for a natural spa set.
  • Instead of exchanging unwanted items with coworkers or extended family, suggest donating to a charity as a group.
Wrapping:
  • Print your own gift wrap, using nontoxic paints on recycled (and recyclable) kraft paper. (Your stamps can even be compostable if you cut them from potatoes. Slice off the painted edge and compost the rest of the spud.)
  • Use your newspaper's comic section as a cheery, bright, and recyclable wrapping.
  • Select uncoated gift wrap that can be recycled and/or burned safely.
Cards:
  • An avid environmentalist probably wouldn't send paper cards at all, but many folks enjoy sending and receiving holiday greetings. Consider cutting back your list, choosing cards made of recycled materials, or even buying them from a charity that benefits the environment.
  • If your friends are Web-savvy, skip the Post Office altogether and send cards via email.
Trees:
Enlarge Image What you do with your tree after Christmas is as important as how you decorate it.
  • Cutting down Christmas trees isn't the main issue. After all, most Christmas trees come from tree farms, not the virgin forest. New, fast-growing trees are planted to replace the ones cut down. It's what we do with them after the holiday that makes them a nuisance or not. Mulching the trees into chips that can be used for landscaping is one earth-friendly solution. Many towns will have the sanitation department pick up and mulch Christmas trees, then offer the chips to residents, use them in public spaces, or sell them. You may have a neighbor with a shredder that will accomplish the same thing. Be sure to remove all decorations, including tinsel, before you recycle your tree. Since tinsel can be difficult to remove, consider leaving it off altogether.
  • Buy a tree with roots that can be planted after the holidays; note that this requires planning ahead to dig a hole before the ground freezes.
  • Decorate with recyclable, compostable, or bird-friendly materials.

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