December 10, 2012
Let’s take a break from studying for finals and stressing out about work to really ponder what this season means. No matter what you celebrate, all the holidays bring together family, friends, and strangers. But let’s bring in another companion or two and include the natural world in the festivities.
The holidays in general are consumptive, more than usual. Decorations, gifts, baking, and parties all have their own set of impacts. So this year, we bring you some green holiday ideas that you can even apply after the celebrations. Ideas inspired by Earth911.
You could say gifts are one piece of the heart of this season: they bring joy, express your gratitude and love, and show your appreciation for the people (and pets) in your life. Show your appreciation of Mother Earth, too, by keeping the environment in mind when gifting.
- mason jars get a second life as these artistic gifts
- make that old sweater into new socks
- give with a heart: reclaimed wood headphones benefit deaf children
- support artists and designers by purchasing recycled gifts
- keep your friends’ mugs cozy with their own recycled sweater
- recycle for charity
Nothing pains us more than seeing our shiny new gifts and a big ol’ pile of paper. Ok, well, some things may pain us more, but there are certainly some ways to wrap your presents in a sustainable manner! For instance:
- make the gift wrap part of the gift (it’s like a two-in-one)
- pick gift wrap that can be used again
- get your furoshiki on
- use what you already have: newspaper, crafts paper, food wrappers
- stay traditional with recycled-content paper options
- plant a gift tag
- use cookie canisters as gift boxes
It’s pretty green to keep using the same decorations year after year, but it’s even greener to make them out of things around the house. Consider these options:
- low-waste, floral-free (to save your compost bin), winter-themed centerpiece ideas
- redesign unwanted ornaments with paper mache or create a new wreath
- turn old holiday cards into diorama boxes
- take that old string of lights and make an ornament out of the bulbs (No tree? No problem. Hang these from your ceiling.)
- keep those empty party bottles and wine corks for your very own tree or menorah
- upcycle loose objects around the house as one-of-a-kind ornaments or desk accessories
- don’t forget the age-old question: real or fake? No, not those — Christmas trees!
Cooking treats for your family, friends, and co-workers? Got some extra flour in your cabinet? Maybe some veggies that are going to rot in your fridge? Then have no fear. These recipes call for pretty much everything!
- cranberry, maple, and oatmeal cookies
- white chocolate-dipped cinnamon and banana bread biscotti
- rosemary lemon sugar cookies
- sweet potato cookies
- pie-spiced apple cookies
By Natalie Muilenberg
Editor Assistant, Global Institute of Sustainability