Friday, October 31, 2008

Green Christmas

As I was looking at a Christmas decoration display in a local store the other day (already on sale) I was thinking about how we generate a lot of junk for Christmas. Why is that?

So my creative challenge to you is this: How can you make your Christmas less about junk, more Green and Sustainable, and more about Relationships?

Believe it or not, this takes some real creative problem solving.

Something that I used to do when I had to live on a tighter budget was to have my groceries bagged in paper rather than plastic. Then I would cut open the bags so that they laid flat and decorated them with whatever I had. Usually a bottle of 99¢ red or green paint. That was my wrapping paper and it was beautiful.

But since I'm encouraging you to use fabric bags for your groceries, try finding other ways of wrapping gifts. Here are some ideas:

1. Reuse paper from last year. I know this sounds awful and cheap, but it's not a bad idea.
2. Use part of the gift as the container or covering. You could give each person a fabric grocery bag and put the rest of their gift inside. Wrap a gift of jewelry in a matching scarf. It might mean you won't want to put some of the gifts under the tree until the last minute, but it would save on all that paper that just gets thrown away.
3. Use newspaper. The funnies section would be great for the kids, give the financial section to the accountant in the family, give the ads to the bargain shopper...

Are you getting the idea?

Some of us are crafty/arty and have stuff around the house that we can assemble into gifts. That's a great way of reusing or recycling. If you knit or crochet, you've probably got a yarn stash that could be raided for good scarf or hat materials. Instead of buying toys, make paper pads for coloring. Take a stack of paper and drill 2 holes at the top edge. Finish by tying the stack together with string through the holes. What a great way to encourage creativity and to use materials you probably already have.

If you don't have stuff to use to make gifts, you can purchase the materials to do so. A really nice hand made gift is knitted cotton dish cloths. They're nicer than the sponges or dish cloths that you can buy, they last longer, and they're a lot less expensive. I can usually get 2 out of one ball of yarn. That makes the cost for each $1 plus my time. I imagine that if they ever end up in a landfill that they'd decompose a lot better than a sponge as well.

If you like to take photographs, put together a photo book through one of the various web sites that are available out there. If it's for grandma, put together a bunch of pictures of the grandkids from throughout the year. If you like to do art photography, put together a book for the photography lover in the family.

I hope this is sparking some ideas. Let me know what you do to make this coming Christmas less about junk and more about what's good for the environment and for the relationships in your life.