I’m dreaming of a green Christmas, one where instead of discarding 38,000 miles of ribbon – enough to tie a bow around the equator – Americans consider the environmental impact of their gift giving, gift wrapping, and holiday celebrations. It’s possible to make the winter holidays both festive and green. Here are some ideas.
- Make gift-giving eco-friendly:
- Eliminate excess by only giving gifts from the heart, not from obligation.
- Consider a gift of presence – presence spelt with “C” not a “T” – by visiting, calling, planning an outing to hear holiday music.
- Give gifts of time and service, especially to those who say they already have all they need.
- If you do purchase a gift, make it one that doesn’t make more trash, like a certificate for a massage or a yoga class.
- If you want to give a more tangible gift, choose one that promotes green living, such as a reusable shopping bag or a wooden rack for drying laundry.
- Make your gift dollars do double duty
- Donate to a charity in someone else’s name, placing the principle of charity at the center of the holiday.
- Buy trees, farm animals, school uniforms, medicine and shelter for people in need locally and around the world.
- Reduce how much trash you generate.
- Send electronic greeting cards
- Wrap gifts without paper:
- Wrap kitchen gadgets in dishtowels; personal items in handkerchiefs, reuse last year’s wrapping paper and ribbon, and save it again
- Waste management applies not just to gifts, but to food and drink as well.
- Buy locally produced food, sustainably farmed.
- Eat less – you’ll feel better.
- Compost food scraps.
- Reduce or eliminate outdoor lighting displays.
- Without light pollution, starlight can be spectacular, especially with snow cover.
- Rather than blind the darkness with light, celebrate it with moonlit walks.
- Indoors, rely on candles instead of lights, creating that special, holiday atmosphere.
These ideas emphasize the small, the local and the personal. They replace acquisitiveness with ingenuity-based generosity. It’s even possible that thinking green will help relieve the stress that’s become part of the holiday frenzy.
Instead of exhausting ourselves chasing after “things,” we can celebrate the holidays in ways that express our love not only for our friends and family, but for our planet and all the living creatures who call it home.