As Christmas approaches, the excitement to buy, buy, buy is in the air. Christmas trees may be green, but the holiday is not. Wasteful purchases, non-recyclable wrapping paper, disposable items, high utility bills and freight costs takes a toll on Mother Earth. By shopping local, making your own gifts, upcycling/recycling, and reducing waste, you can not only make the Christmas season more sustainable, but also save money and have a positive impact on your environment. Here are ten easy ways you can feel good about a green Christmas.

  1. Make your own gift wrap

Traditional wrapping paper is not always recyclable. If you have saved packing material from gift deliveries, you can spruce it up from drab to fab! Paper bags, Sunday newspapers and recycled gift bags are great choices. Keep all your Christmas cards received from the past years to use as décor for the gift wrap. Fun ink stamps, crayons, stencils, and old stickers can be super fun. Let the kids be involved too!

2. Recycle and Reuse

Instead of purchasing new cheaply made gifts, consider shopping used. Check out antique stores, thrift stores, consignment shops, Etsy or eBay to find great deals on unique and unusual items for friends and family. Shopping at thrift and antique stores is like a treasure hunt. You will be amazed at what you can find. You are also teaching your children about reusing. You will also be saving money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time!

3. Shop family owned or local merchants in your community

Help boost your local economy by purchasing hand crafted and unique items close to home. Farmer’s markets and craft fairs are a great option. It is also a great way to meet people in your community and reducing emissions.

4. DIY gifting

Learn a new skill! Pinterest has thousands and thousands of easy DIY projects for everyone. Personal gifts are always thoughtful and meaningful. Hand-crafted soaps, candles, bath salts, sugar scrubs, succulent terrariums and home décor are just a few ideas. Who knows, maybe you will find your new hobby!

5. The Christmas tree dilemma

Many people like the smell of a freshly cut trees on display. Trees release carbon dioxide which is a crucial element for our survival. Going out into the woods can be fun, but is it worth it? It takes trees so many years to grow back. Christmas tree farms are a better option. They are grown specifically for Christmas. As far as artificial trees, you can reuse them forever. Granted, it takes manufacturing to produce and ship them which is equally just as bad. Growing your own tree would be ideal, but not always feasible.

6. Make your own holiday decorations

Decorations are fun and easy to make. Remember the popcorn garland we made as kids? Try a beach themed tree with shells you have collected, make a wreath with collected items from nature, creating a recycled cardboard train or holiday village, or using old Christmas cards for décor. No need to buy anything!

7. Go traditional

Do away with disposable paper items for those holiday parties. Try to use regular dishes, cups and cloth napkins. Pick up cheap items at thrift stores. Mismatch them too for some fun!  Do you have old fabric just sitting around? Make a simple table runner for your holiday table. If you must use paper products, go for the unbleached brands. They will not release toxins and breakdown much faster. Plastic cutlery can be washed and reused. Foam disposables should never be used. Ever.

8. Regifting

The old taboo. It has happened to all of us! If it is a gift you can’t exchange or return, keep them in a special ‘treasure’ drawer. Someone you know at some point will really enjoy that gift. Just try and remember who gave it to you so you don’t give it back accidentally. Donating these items to local charities is a great tax deduction and you are doing good for your community. While you’re at it, collect clothing and coats you no longer use.” Baby, it’s cold outside!”

9. Scented candles

Candles are a popular Christmas tradition. Fill your home with scents of cinnamon, apple pie and pine. However, try not to buy candles made with petroleum-based paraffin wax. These emit toxins from oil. Yuck! Try instead candles made from beeswax or soy-based  vegetable wax. You can even put drops of essential oils in them for a calming effect.

10. Donate

Stop throwing old Christmas decorations in the trash. So many times, artificial trees, warped wreaths, old toys and holiday décor is disregarded and tossed. Our landfills can only take so much garbage. Make a small effort to load them into the car and take them to a local donation center. They will unload it for you and get that tax deduction.