December Challenge: Green Gifts

The holiday season is a time for giving and a time for family. With a little effort and imagination, we can start giving back to the earth and instilling the values of sustainable living to our families, friends and community.

Let’s start with imaginative and creative gift wrapping.

I have a collection of heirloom wrapping paper, the kind I rescue after my family opens presents at Christmas. I carefully fold it and put it away in the attic for reuse on another occasion. My husband gets his birthday present wrapped in colorful Santa-themed paper that has a note scribbled to somebody else. And I am happier when the presents I get are wrapped in 5-year-old wrapping paper that’s been reused at least three times. It’s ironic that when I was a kid, my father’s business was to print and sell gift wrapping paper. Of course, we only ever used the misprinted paper at our household.

Lately, I have opted for using T-shirts, dish cloths, scarfs or other materials that are not disposable for wrapping gifts. The Sunday comics and brown paper from shopping bags also work. I have a banana tree in my kitchen that maybe this year will provide me with a unique, beautiful and totally green alternative to gift wrapping. For more ideas, check out these links:

Let’s make green choices this season so we may have our White Christmas in the future. I can afford to buy gift wrap, but I choose not to because of the amount of waste it generates. The statistics for the United States are staggering.

But don’t stop with the gift wrapping. To make your holiday season greener, you can buy less and look for locally made, repurposed or upcycled gifts, which are made from recyclable or renewable materials.

Other ideas:

  • Buy a live tree. If you take good care of it and pot it, you can use it next year, or plant it outside.
  • Be mindful of Christmas lighting and decorations. Sometimes less is more. Make your own cards from recycled materials.
  • Participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count
  • Take a nature hike
  • Decorate a tree for the birds with peanut butter and seed trays with black oil sunflower seed, wild bird mixed seed and nyjer seed bells



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