Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Help: Having a Greener Holiday

I have a few pet peeves about the holidays: crowds, rude people, traffic. Out of all of the things that bug me from Thanksgiving to New Year's, my biggest pet peeve is how much is wasted - wrapping paper, bows, decorations, food, and plenty more! Don't get me wrong - I'm not a scrooge! But over the years, I've gotten increasingly concerned about the environment and I'm trying to minimize my impact. I figured a lot of you are in the same boat. Here is how I'm planning to have a greener holiday:

*Wrapping presents with something I already have - newspapers are a classic, but what about old scarves or bandanas? What about placing a present in a basket or other container I have lying around the house? I also think it could be nice to get a gift in a reusable shopping bag - something I can use later! If I have to buy wrapping paper, I will only buy paper made of recycled materials. I also love to wrap presents with nice ribbon that could be used by the recipient again - I love to use old ribbons for headbands, belts, or an accent on my purse.

*Giving experiential gifts. I love this one! Last year, my husband and I got my twin brothers tickets to an Oregon Ducks football game. Since we couldn't buy tickets until July, the present they got to "open" were foam fingers that we hid in the house. When they found the fingers, we told them they'd need to use those to cheer at the game we'd be taking them to. It was pretty cute! I plan to do more of this during the holidays this year.

*Giving the gift of my time. I used to think these were so cheesy! My mom would always encourage me to make personal gift certificates, but I thought they were lame. Now, I love them and so do the recipients! Make a certificate for your parents and take them out to their favorite restaurant (or one within your budget) or babysit your niece and give your siblings a night out. People stay relatively connected with technology these days, but nothing beats a few hours of face time with those you love. I promise that will be a memorable gift.

*Giving a membership or subscription. As I've mentioned in other posts, I love giving magazines as gifts (just remember to either pass the magazine onto someone else or recycle it when you're done). Memberships are also great! One year, my mom got me a membership to AAA. With an unreliable car, that definitely got me out of a few pickles, plus it gave me ultimate piece of mind. Maybe you could find a cheap membership for a friend's favorite museum?

For other ideas on how to have a no-waste holiday, go to

What do you think? Is it important to you to give in a way that reduces waste? How are you incorporating being green into your holiday routine?


  1. If you're eco-sensitive, you should know that AAA lobbies against most public transit. If you'd rather not support that, check out Better World Auto Club instead of AAA.

    A really cool low-cost gift is to teach someone something. My dad taught me to sail, an awesome experience!

    You can always go the Depression route and unwrap presents carefully so you can re-use the paper. Or just buy wrapping paper at Costco, where it's really cheap.

  2. This is true, Dave. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I do love AAA for their discounts though!

    And I love the idea of teaching people something - that is a memorable and very appreciated gift.