It’s important to remember that going “green” is a process not a step. By this I mean that you can take tiny, little steps on your way to making your family more environmentally aware. In this manner, going green can become a family adventure instead of a chore. Tiny steps by individuals add up to giant leaps when practiced by many.
1. Wrapping Paper
One of the most popular alternatives is gift bags . These decorative bags can be used over and over again. Another big plus is that it takes far less time to put gifts in bags than it does to wrap them!
Another idea is to use children’s artwork as wrapping paper. Not all of their artwork can fit on the fridge. The painted or colored paper will look beautiful under the tree . The kids will like it too as they can easily see that their art work is valued. Afterwards, the paper can be recycled or taken home by the gift receiver as an added present.
There are also many 100% recycled wrapping papers on the market. If you are more traditional and prefer the look of standard paper, this is a great “green” option. Just make sure that you recycle the paper again after it’s unwrapped!
My last idea for wrapping paper alternatives is a little more costly than those already mentioned. I’m suggesting that you wrap your gifts in money. This can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose depending upon the denominations of the bills. This kind of wrapping paper would be a big hit, especially with teens. Just make sure that you don’t put these gifts out too early or they just may go missing.
2. Christmas Tree
There’s a huge debate over what kind of tree is better for the environment — a real tree or a fake tree. Those on the side of having a real tree state that it’s better for the environment to cut down a tree than to use all the natural resources and pollute the air making a fake tree. Those on the side of the fake tree state that it’s always bad to cut down a tree and that a fake tree can be used year after year.
I happen to think that there is a better, third option to the tree debate. I propose that people use potted plants or trees. That way, no trees are destroyed and there’s no pollution to the environment and use of natural resources to make the fake tree. You can even use a tall house plant as your family’s Christmas tree with some decorations and creativity. If you are using a potted pine or spruce tree, you can replant it after using it which will preserve the tree’s life and beautify where ever you decide to replant it.
Whichever kind of tree you use, there are ways to make it more environmentally friendly. If you’re using a real tree, find out about tree recycling programs in your area. Many cities have programs that use the trees to make mulch for city parks in the spring. If you’re using a fake tree, use it over and over. When you’re ready to get a different tree, consider donating it to a local charity instead of throwing it away. There are many families who don’t have any kind of tree at all and would appreciate being able to have one in their home.
There are many cards on the market that are made of 100% recycled paper. If you lack creativity or time (a problem most of us face!), these recycled cards are an easy and inexpensive way to make your cards more friendly to the environment. You could even write a note in the card reminding the receiver to recycle it!
Another alternative is to send e-cards. These are definitely less personal but are far more environmentally friendly and can save a lot of time and money. They are quick to send, are received immediately, require no postage, can be found for free and use no paper at all.
Ornaments can be made from anything. The only limits are your creativity and imagination. There are thousands of articles on line that have instructions on making ornaments out of used materials — look around your house before starting to research. That way it’ll make your search a little easier.
Another great place to come up with ideas on hand made ornaments is local craft fairs. There are many people making and selling ornaments made of used materials. If you’re lacking the time or creativity to make recycled ornaments yourself, these craft fairs are also a great place to shop! You are supporting local artisans, the local economy, cutting out the shipping and packaging, as well as having fun in your own community when you shop at these fairs.
Buying local is a great way to make your shopping more green. When you are buying products from foreign countries, you are supporting their country’s economy which leads to supporting their policies on human rights, child labor laws, terrorist activities, etc. It also means that you are contributing to global pollution by having items shipped all over the world. Another major problem with buying out-of-country items is that there is often excessive packaging of the products to ensure that the products are not damaged by their long voyages. Buying local, when possible (it isn’t always), can really help to cut down on the damage caused by these issues.