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Go Green for the Holidays; Waste Not – Want Not !

Go Green this Holiday Season! Think outside the box. Even if you aren’t a very crafty or creative person, or have never thought much about ‘Going Green,’ the holidays are a great time to start! Those who are seriously into preserving the environment often cringe at the mere thought of all the waste that goes along with the holidays, such as not so eco-friendly gifts, wrap and dispensable party wares.

I’ve come up with a few simple solutions to give you the opportunity to have a greener holiday season. Not only will you help preserve the planet in the long-run, but you may even save a few bucks by using some of the belongings you already own and incorporating them into your holiday décor.


Think long-term. Eliminate wasteful paper products and disposable pans and other bakeware. Purchase or use glass cookware and dinnerware. Invest in cloth items such as cloth napkins, placemats and tablecloths or make them yourself from fabric.

Collect pine cones for free. Bring the outdoors in!

Decorate the house with live greenery. The best choices are herbs such as basil and rosemary, which have a wonderful fragrance, and you can use them for cooking all year long.

Look in your kids’ rooms for decoration ideas. Whoever said you couldn’t build a menorah or tree decoration out of Legos! Or a cool snowflake scene from an Etch A Sketch or Lite-Brite!

Christmas trees

  • Get a live tree that you can have in your house and then plant outside after the holidays - in your yard or somewhere else. The planet needs more trees and they sequester carbon. Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead. (Please read the warning labels.)
  • Grow it yourself. Plant a few seedlings each year, and, in a few years, you will have your own tree that you can bring in for the holiday season.

Save money

  • Energy - Attach your indoor and outdoor lights to a timer, and program them to be on only for the several hours in the evening when people will see them.
  • Wrapping paper - Wrap presents with recyclable wrapping paper or get creative and make your own. Gifts can be wrapped in newspaper, fabric or make use of some of your child’s artwork that you have been holding on to! How about putting your gift in a reusable bag?
  • Cards - Make your own holiday cards! Recycle children’s artwork or use some of the cards from last year. Or make your own recycled paper! Take old newspaper, mix it with water in a blender and pour out over a screen and set out to dry. Try sprinkling some seeds in it and the recipient can just plant the card. How clever! Or check out and you can order custom seeded paper.


  • If you must purchase a gift, look for items made from recyclable material.
  • Give gift certificates for goods or services you know the recipient will use.
  • Shop consignment stores! Not only will you help keep items recycling, but you will also save some money, too!
  • Make something! Whether it’s a cake, pillow, home accessory, scrapbook, painting, ornament or scarf - be creative.

Some of these ideas are great to continue on throughout the year at any other gift giving time or holiday. The kids can easily pitch in and may even come up with some new clever ideas to reuse items and to help save you some money - and to cut down on waste.

Kara is a publisher and freelance writer with two elementary-aged children. She is always looking for clever, budget-friendly activities to do with her family and ways to save money.

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