Sunday, December 25, 2011

A green Christmas

Here are some of the ways we tried to make our Christmas celebrations more eco-friendly:

Go paperless! I've made lots of fabric gift bags over the last few years, so we didn't use any wrapping paper. I know Sprout would have fun ripping up the paper, but he'll probably get some gifts from family wrapped in paper. He's too young to know what he's missing, anyway!

Quality over quantity. We bought a few better quality gifts that will last, rather than tons of cheap ones that will end up in the landfill by next Christmas. I also kept this advice in mind: something they want, something they need, something to wear & something to read. I picked Sprout's gifts carefully according to what I thought he'd really like.

Give to somebody who needs it. Rather than spending hundreds or thousands on gifts for the many members of our extended family that we're close to (that makes about 20 people!) we give gifts only to the children & then donate money to the SPCA. This really cuts down on the gag gifts & things-I-bought-because-I-needed-to-get-something gifts, most of which probably end up in the garbage eventually. Plus, you can sign up for monthly deductions at most charities & non-profits so you don't have to come up the money all at once.

Just say no to plastic! I tried to avoid plastic gifts & things with a lot of packaging. This is nearly impossible with a child, because I swear, 99% of toys are plastic. At least the Mr. Potato Head came in a plastic 'silly suitcase' to store it in later, instead of a box.

Make it! Sewing, baking, knitting, building--however you do it, it's quite likely greener than buying something made across the world & shipped across an ocean wrapped in plastic. Plus, nothing feels better than when all your effort to create something unique is well-received. Sprout loved the little kitty puppet I made him. Each one of our stockings was made by someone different. Mine was made by my Nanny when I was little & matches my sisters' & cousins'. I crocheted Oli's about ten years ago--he grew up with the tradition of Weihnachtsteller & had never had a stocking. Auntie Wendy knitted Sprout's lovely blue one last year.

Buy local. I got locally made gifts for Oli & one of his gifts to me was hand-made locally too. The rest of our gifts have left quite a big carbon footprint though, hailing from China, Mexico & Thailand.

New to you. This year we did something new & bought a few things used: three out of four of Sprout's books were used. He doesn't notice the difference & you really can't tell with one of them.

No PVC tree. We got a real tree (see a well-explained article here or the super-short version from the Suzuki Foundation for why they're a better choice than fake). Next year I will look into finding one that was grown without chemicals, or maybe trying a live one.

Go car-lite, if not car-free. We took transit or walked for most of our shopping & holiday events & are using a Modo car for the one out in the wilds of Coquitlam ;)

Don't be a watt-hog. Once my old incandescent mini-lights stopped working, I traded them in for super-energy-efficient LED ones. Though it's not a huge amount of power we're saving, every little bit helps, right? You can get them on sale after Christmas for really cheap. The only thing to replace is the tree-topper I have from my grandparents. It's the old kind of bulbs, but they all still work, so I don't want to throw it out yet.

Play it again, Sam. Our decorations are all reusable: tin tinsel, bunting made of scrap fabric, hand-made stockings, snowflake window decals (rather than cutting paper ones & recycling them). I hope to add one or two little things that I make to our box of tree decorations each year & avoid getting any more plastic ornaments.
That's about it. We still have room for improvement, of course. Next year, I'd like to make rather than buy more of our Christmas treats. I want to make a fabric advent calendar for Sprout too, instead of the paper & plastic one that we'll be recycling this year. 

What did you do this year to be more green? What do you want to do next year?

I'll leave you with some pics of our Christmas morning.

1 comment:

  1. He is SO CUTE! Your photos are fantastic. They could be posters or artsy ads in a magazine.

    That's a great list of green initiatives. We had a number of your creative bags to open here at the house! They're great.


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