• R. A. Halasz

A Greener Holiday | A Gift to the Planet

Shells Found on the Beach Make a Lovely Decoration

Holiday time is here and shopping, decorating, gift giving and celebrating will be in full force. This also means more trash and waste is created. According to, American’s throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years. Let’s face it, holiday season is not an Eco-friendly time of year but there are things that can be done to make your holidays a greener one. Not only will you be helping to make this planet a better place but you may also save some money. Here are some tips and suggestions for a holly jolly greener holiday no matter what you celebrate.

It’s Time to Decorate:

The Christmas tree is usually the focal point of the holiday decorating. Using a fake tree every year can be cost effective and of course no pine needles on your floor. Getting a live tree would be the best option for being Eco-friendly. Check with your local nursery to see what they suggest and how to maintain one. If you do enjoy choosing that fresh cut tree every year make sure to compost it.

Once the tree is in place why be creative with decorating the tree and your house by choosing more natural decorations. Making your own ornaments and decorating with things you may already have in your craft box or even in your own backyard can be cost effective and also can become something that can be handed down for generations.

Make your own salt dough or cookie ornaments. The salt dough only consists of salt, flour, tap water and imagination. Salt dough recipe

  • Decorate old frames and print old pictures from past holidays and display.

  • Use things you can find in nature like pine cones, branches, driftwood and shells (for our beach loving friends) to create a holiday scene.

  • Use what you have. Glass vases, bowls or apothecary glass jars look great with beautiful ornaments inside.

  • One part of decorating is using those pretty twinkling lights. Help conserve energy by turning outside and inside lights off when you go to bed. Also don’t forget to turn off the inside lights when you leave the house. Timers for lights are really helpful and convenient.

  • Use LED lights. LED’s use 80% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

  • Make or buy a natural wreath. You can use pine cones or even drift wood to make a wreath that will last throughout the years. If you have natural pine wreath compost it after the holidays.

Gift Giving:

Boxes, bags and bows abound during the holiday are shopping season. However, how much of it goes to waste? Why not get the “perfect gift”. Here are some ideas to help make gift giving easier and greener.

  • Give a night out and give a gift card/certificate to a restaurant and movie to a deserving couple. Heck, throw in a gas gift card so they save on the travel. (Gift cards in general are a good gift and even though some may think it’s impersonal many people would prefer a gift card to get what they need)

  • Have a loved one that loves to visit a certain museum, amusement park or even botanical garden? Get them a year membership for them to enjoy and use throughout the year without having to pay an admission fee every time.

  • Create a memory. Buy tickets to a concert, comedy show, sports game or a play for that special someone.

  • Don’t have a lot of money? Give of your time. Offer to baby sit, pet sit, house cleaning, washing a car, and so on to someone who may need your services throughout the year. A little help can go a long way.

  • Use your talents. If you paint, knit, wood work, whatever your talent may be use it to make a special and personal gift for that special someone.

  • If you are good baker make baked goods like cookies, brownies and fudge and pack them into reusable containers such as tins, baskets and glass mason jars. Who doesn’t like a homemade treat at the holidays?

  • Instead of buying your partner a bunch of things they may not need or want why not just get one gift for the both of you such as a trip, a home improvement, or that new 70 inch TV they’ve eyeing.

  • If you have a big family it can be costly to buy gifts everyone. Do a Secret Santa with the adults with a present and cost limit. It’s cost saving and helps limit shopping frustration. Also it cuts down on things like boxes, tags, wrapping paper and bags that will wind up in a landfill.

Frame a Photo you Took. It'ill be a One of Kind Gift.

Wrap It Up:

Who doesn’t like to receive a beautifully wrapped gift? Nothing screams Christmas morning like wrapping paper, bags, tags and bows scattered all over the floor. So what do you do with all the left over debris? Most wrapping papers can be recycled if all tags and bows are taken off. (Metallic, glittery or velvet flocked paper cannot be recycled). Bows and ribbons are a no go for the recycling bin. And those Christmas cards? Well if they are plain they can be recycled but photo, embossed, glittered or metallic cards cannot. You can tear off the plain part of the paper and toss that into the bin. So what do you do with all of this stuff?

  • Put the gift in a reusable bag, tin or container that can be used again. An example would be to give that coffee lover a gift card to their favorite coffee shop in a reusable cup that could be placed in a reusable bag.

  • Reuse bows, ribbons, bags, boxes and wrapping paper. You not only will save money but you’ll have it on hand when you need it.

  • Make your own package tags with recyclable paper.

  • Use materials like cloth or newspaper to wrap a present. Be creative!

  • Look for wrapping paper, ribbon and bows that are recyclable.

  • Send e-cards. By sending someone a gift card via e-mail or text you eliminate all packaging and wrappings.

Some Final Thoughts:

Here are some more tips that can make your holiday an Eco-friendly one and yet still be festive.

  • Use those reusable bags when shopping! Forgot your bags? If you can bring up with your own two hands you can carry it out. The less plastic the better.

  • Get reusable batteries for the kiddie’s toys. Get enough so when they run out you can simply replace while the old ones are charging. Imagine how much money you’ll save yearly and you’ll never run out of batteries.

  • Donate any gift that you will not use. Have your children donate some of their toys they are no longer playing with that are in good condition.

  • Use reusable plates, cups, napkins and silverware for holiday celebrations.

  • Be mindful that packages coming from ordering online can be filled with things like Styrofoam peanuts or plastic air bags that are not recyclable. Buy local when you can and support your local retail stores to avoid extra waste.

  • Give reusable gifts like a cool reusable bag, straws or cups for those people on the go who could stand to reduce their waste.

  • Reused old Christmas cards by cutting them into tags for next year for presents, using them as book marks (cut into strips), use the back side to make place cards table seating, or make decorations with them. You can also hang your favorites year after year.

  • Recycle or upcycle what you can.

  • Remember that less is more. Getting one special gift means then a bunch of things that will be forgotten or wind up in landfill by next holiday season.

These were made with materials found littered on the beach. Plastic caps, fake flower petals, Styrofoam, pop tabs, pieces of plastic and more were used.

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