In our Christmas in July series, we have already talked about how we can prepare for Christmas spiritually and financially. Now we are going to tackle how we can vow now to help the environment this coming December.
How on earth is she going to tie Christmas and the environment together? The answer is very easily. Think about the waste at Christmas. Wrapping paper. Gifts we don’t need. Cheaply-made toys for kids that break by New Year’s Day. Consider the energy and resources used to make these items and the landfill in which they will end up. Even if you recycle, it still takes energy to recycle. I think we all forget that little fact. Of course, it’s better to recycle than to throw something away, but it does still take energy to recycle. If we don’t buy in the first place, we are saving money, saving energy, and saving the environment.
Not to buy at Christmas??? How communist!!! How unrealistic!!!
I’m not telling you not to buy your kid’s presents. I’m simply encouraging you to be mindful of what you purchase. Was it made sustainably? Does it contain toxic paints or plastics? Will the recipient actually use the gift? Or, is it some fad toy that the kids will play with three times and then get bored with it?
I can’t say I buy all of my gifts from eco-friendly businesses. I try to whenever possible, but I’d be lying if I said every gift or every item that I own was made sustainably. However, we make very few impulse purchases. Impulse purchases are a drain on our pocketbooks and on the environment. Every gift I purchase is with the needs of the recipient in mind. If it is something they need or will cherish, it is less likely to end up as clutter. I also buy decent quality items so they don’t end up in the landfill in five minutes. In most cases, you really do get what you pay for.
So, why is this something that needs to be addressed now? Because the stress of the holidays creates the perfect storm for impulse buying. No one wants to think about changing their habits when they are frazzled and have a list a mile long. Think about it now. Discuss with your family things like gift wrap and amounts of gifts. Here are some things to think about:
7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Christmas
- Consider having Santa’s gifts unwrapped and just sitting under the tree. That’s how Santa left his toys for my sisters and me. It created this magical moment when we walked down the hall and saw all of our new toys sitting there waiting for us. It saved my parents money and time. I’m sure this wasn’t an environmentally-conscious decision on their part, but they were inadvertently helping the environment by not stuffing tons of extra wrapping paper into the garbage.
- Talk to adult family members about gift wrapping in advance. Let them know you will not be offended if they wrap your gifts in brown grocery bags or newspaper. Alert them that they might receive the same. Have a gift wrap decorating day with your children where they help paint or color old newspapers and bags with Christmas themes. What great new memories and traditions you will start!
- Talk to family members now about wish lists. Buying people things they truly need or want means they will hold onto it longer, making it a wise purchase both financially and environmentally.
- Talk to family members now about price points. Too many people overbuy at Christmas and end up spending a lot of money on frivolous items just to reach a price point or number of gifts per person. Parents and grandparents stress over making the gift load equal among children and grandchildren. Set a price point now and make it on the lower end. This will eliminate those unnecessary, obligatory purchases that will never be used.
- #4 goes for your kids, too. We all know they are going to play with those toys for a few days and then never again, so focus on quality and not quantity. Start looking for eco-friendly businesses with non-toxic and sustainable missions. EcoFirms.org has a directory of eco-friendly businesses for every need under the sun. Peruse it in your free time and you will be ready for the holidays!
- Eliminate token gifts. You know – the mass dollar store purchases that you give out to your co-workers or groups of friends. They look cute on everyone’s desk in pretty wrap, but what do people actually do with them? More waste. Sorry. Just being honest. If you really want to give a gift, make cookies. And, that brings me to the last tip…
- Give food. People LOVE getting consumables. Food adds that thoughtful TLC that people really appreciate. Follow my Healthier Cookies board on Pinterest for some great ideas. Wrap them in that decorated brown bag wrap you made with the kids. You could also make a ribbon wreath plate (from Simply Southern, Sweet, Classy and Sassy) or a paper plate gift basket (from Sarah Hearts) using paper plates made from recycled materials. Even better – use non-recyclable plastic containers and decorate them.
Let’s take the commercialism out of Christmas and go back to the real meaning of the season, which is Christ’s birth and the spirit of thoughtful giving, not ostentatious giving. By buying small gifts that people will use, you will eliminate waste. Giving yourself a few months will allow you to prepare ahead of time and slowly incorporate some of these 7 tips.
Christmas in July Series:
Image courtesy of boulemonademoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net; edited by The Wellness Wife
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