Happy Holidays! I love the winter holiday season, but a lot of holiday practices and traditions can be excessive and wasteful. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household waste in the U.S. increases 25% during the holiday season (from Thanksgiving to New Years), which amounts to one million additional tons*.
But just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it in an eco-friendly manner! Being green not only helps protect the Earth, but it is also better for you and your family’s health, and your wallet too! Many environmental friendly products and methods are budget friendly or they save you money in the long run.
Here are some more of my favorite eco-friendly tips for the holidays!
Cards And Invitations:
A great green and budget friendly tip is to save your old cards from last year. You can make new cards from them. Simply cut the cards in half. Then paste the front of the card (with the picture) on stiff paper, card stock, or thick scrap book paper to create a new card!Another way to use old cards is to cut them up and use them as gift tags or bookmarks! This is a good way to use the other half (the back half) of old cards. Just cover the old writing with some nice paper.
Make handmade cards! There are some beautiful papers available made from recycled or eco-friendly materials, such as banana peels, hemp, or sugar cane fiber. Or make your own paper from old paper. This is a good craft to make with kids!
For cards and invitations, consider sending a virtual invite or an e-card. There are many websites that offer free e-cards or invitations. Or invite someone by calling them on the phone.
Instead of using wrapping paper (which most people only use once and toss), wrap your gifts in a crunchy manner! Place gifts in reusable cloth or fabric shopping bags or totes. Many companies make reusable bags in beautiful patterns and designs, including winter and holiday themes.
Wrap your gifts in a scarf, towel, or fabric. The ‘wrapping’ makes an awesome second gift! Green and useful!
If you receive a gift with bows and ribbons, save them to use on other gifts. Or use real ribbons or yarn to decorate your gifts. Ribbons and yarn can be reused in many ways: to tie hair, on future gifts, as a decoration on clothes or pillows, or use them to tie herbs together (to make wands or to dry), etc.
Place small items in festive tins or glass jars. I use tins and fancy glass jars for all sorts of uses. I use them to store baked goods, sweets, teas, herbs, and more!
I love placing gifts in sachet or drawstring bags: they are beautiful, and come in a variety of fabrics. I package Earth Alkemie’s gift sets in organza and hand crafted, fair trade Sinamay mesh bags (a natural fiber made from a species of banana), but drawstring bags also come in other fabrics like velour, cotton, and linen. Some sachet bags are decorated with patterns, and sometimes you can find them decorated with embroidery, beads, or sequins.
This is the season for sharing and caring! How about donating and making someone else’s day a little brighter? If you have any extra items, gifts, or foods consider donating to women shelters, poor shelters, and children organizations. During the cold winter months, in addition to food and basic toiletries, shelters and organizations need items such as warm clothing, blankets, and toys. Check your local government pages for a list of local shelters. Many stores, banks, schools, jobs, and organizations have food, clothing, and toy drives during the winter months.
Here is my eco living article on many other tips on how to green your holiday! http://allnaturalbeauty.com/articles/eco-living/69-living-an-earth-friendly-lifestyle/715-eco-living-green-your-holidays
My article on green and budget friendly hand made gifts. Includes links to lots of recipes. http://allnaturalbeauty.com/articles/eco-living/69-living-an-earth-friendly-lifestyle/716-eco-living-green-and-budget-friendly-hand-made-gifts
Here is a good video on how to make your own paper from old paper: http://video.about.com/familycrafts/How-to-Make-Paper-With-Kids.htm
A good step by step guide on paper making: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Paper
Every year the American Botanical Council offers beautiful herbal e-cards. They are free but you have to register on their website. http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/PageServer
*EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) statistic on holiday waste. Their website has many green holiday tips too! http://www.epa.gov/Region09/waste/recycling/index.html
About The Author:
Li Wong is the owner of Earth Alkemie, an all natural, vegetarian skin care and perfume company. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Biology) and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy. Li has been crafting natural cosmetics and studying aromatherapy and herbalism since 2001. Environmental interests include conservation, botany, ethnobotany (uses of plants by indigenous peoples), mammals, organic standards in cosmetics, urban wildlife issues, environmental education and awareness, and public perception. She is the all natural beauty website’s Eco Living and DIY Natural Beauty Formulating Expert, and the anb’s mall Eco Living writer. http://www.anbportal.com/meet_the_all_natural_beauty_experts.htm
For more information on environmental issues, Eco Living, natural cosmetics, aromatherapy, and herbalism check out: Solarkat’s Eco Blog: http://solarkateco.blogspot.com/
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