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A little more green: A holiday series

October 8, 2009

I love the holidays, specifically Christmas. I have already watched “Elf” and listened to one of my favorite Christmas albums. I sing carols to Ainsley at night, and I can’t wait to pull out the Christmas countdown calendar my sister made for me.

With less than 12 weeks left before the big day (that’s right — less than 12 weeks), I am trying to balance anticipation with planning, excitement with thought.

If you haven’t noticed, I have added a button on the sidebar about buying/making handmade gifts for Christmas. That’s my first commitment of this gift-giving season, and I I hope I can stick to it. Therefore…

Commitment #1: Make or buy only handmade gifts this holiday season.

But I have a few other commitments I’d like to make this year that will serve two purposes: 1) making more environmentally and people-friendly choices (thus “a little more green”), and 2) saving us some money (thus “a little more green”).

So to kick off this series, I want to share my second commitment (and these are in no particular order).

Committment #2: No new paper products.

Shiny paper and big bows are certainly festive and fun. Gift bags themed to match the tissue paper and ribbons are cute  and cheerful. It’s part of the beauty of the season.

However…

I don’t know about you, but I have used the same two rolls of wrapping paper for at least 2 (maybe 3) Christmases. I also have three boxes of leftover tissue paper and ribbons. And then there are the 4 or 5 boxes of gift bags I’ve collected in the past three years. And that’s after thinning the herd last spring.

I certainly don’t need new wrapping paper, tissue paper, or gift bags. So this year, I will not be buying any wrapping-related materials.

In addition to the toll these products take on our earth (and the people in it) in order to be produced, they also usually end up filling up a few bags’ worth of trash at the end of the gift-0pening festivities. Wrapping paper and gift bags total about 4 million tons of trash each year. And I mean trash since they usually can’t be recycled.

I know paper and bags are pretty inexpensive now, especially at discount stores, but that cost doesn’t properly reflect the actual cost of production (or disposal): the loss of trees, paper mills and their workers, the workers who tie the knots into each gift bag handle, and the distribution of these products to the buyer. Maybe $1 isn’t enough money for this product after all. (For more on this idea, click “The Story of Stuff” on the sidebar.)

So here’s my plan:

  • We’ll use up what we have.
  • We’ll reuse what we can again next year. This means we have to be a little more gentle with tissue paper, gift bags, ribbons, etc.
  • We’ll use reusable packaging we already have or can make– like fabric gift bags, cloth grocery tote bags, and boxes. (Neat alternative ideas here.)
  • We’ll share! Do you have a billion gift bags and wrapping paper you’re sick of using year after year? Why not swap with someone who’s just as anxious to have a “new” set of wrapping materials? Doesn’t a wrapping party sound like fun?
  • We’ll use “old” paper products: newspaper, paper bags we can decorate with crayon drawings (I loved this as a kid!), and even magazines and junk mail. (More neat ideas here.)
  • And if we still have too much leftover, we’ll donate the materials to an organization that can use them. Sometimes churches or shelters will host Christmas shopping days for families in need or kids. Could they use some free wrapping materials?

I can hardly wait to get wrapping!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    October 8, 2009 2:15 pm

    Great ideas! While I’m not big on today’s “green movement”, I do love the idea of saving money and not having to heft out the huge trash bags after celebration! 😀

    My mom started making cloth gift bags a couple of years ago and we have reused those several times. Plus, they are really cute and you can usually find fabrics with designs that are more fun than what you find on wrapping paper. 🙂

    I’m SO Excited for Christmas this year!!

  2. Aunt Katie permalink
    October 9, 2009 6:55 am

    Christmas makes me really excited for Christmas Tea and sitting by the warm fire!!!

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