The overflowing holiday aisles of every store in America may say otherwise, but you really don’t need a six-foot tall styrofoam snowman, eighteen fake poinsettia plants, three miles of tinsel or forty rolls of wrapping paper to make your season bright. Peel back all of the layers this year, and get down to the heart of the season by trying one or all of our tips for making your holidays an eco-friendly extravaganza.You’ll be giving your kids and everyone around you an invaluable gift by teaching by example how to preserve the planet without sacrificing any of the fun and reverie. These are great green traditions you can instill in your kids, that they may in turn pass down for generations to come.

Rent A Living Christmas Tree
Did you know you can rent a living Christmas tree? You get all of the perks of having the gorgeous aesthetic and fragrant pine scent of a festive fir in your home, without having to kill a tree for the sake of fleeting decor. Once you’re finished enjoying your tree, it will be replanted — saving you the need to recycle or dispose of it yourself. In Los Angeles, rent a living tree from The Living Christmas Company (photo below courtesy of The Living Christmas Company). In Portland, check out The Original Living Christmas Tree Company. If you’re in the San Francisco area, click here to rent a living tree for Christmas. Visit LivingChristmasTrees.com to find tree rental companies across the United States.

Decorate With LED Lights
LED lights use less power (thereby conserving energy and lowering your electricity bill) and they last much longer than traditional Christmas lights — up to 100,000 hours when used indoors! LEDs also run at a cooler temp, which lessens the risk factor for burns and fires. There are many Christmas light recycling programs across the country wherein you may turn in your old lights and get credit toward the purchase of new, vibrant and energy efficient LED lights. Check with major retailers including The Home Depot and CVS in your neck of the woods to see if they are currently offering to recycle old Christmas lights so you can go green with LEDs.

Deck The Halls With Natural & Found DIY Decor
It’s nearly impossible to improve upon Mother Nature, so why not commission her to deck your halls? Instead of buying plastic wreaths and garland and doling out cash for pine cones, take a nature walk with your kids and find items that bring the outdoors inside to create a warm vibe in your home. If you’re buying a real Christmas tree, grab a real wreath and garland from the same retailer as well, since they are much greener in every sense of the word than the manmade variety. Pine cones may be found peppering the ground of many parks and playgrounds, so just scoop up a few for your decorating needs. You can also make your own holiday decorations using items around your house as evidenced by this fantastic DIY scrap fabric wreath, and this delightful centerpiece comprised of terra cotta pots, herbs, berries and candles.

Send Holiday Greeting Cards Electronically
Given the wealth of online card websites, you are certain to find a holiday greeting that suits your taste — from modern to classic, contemporary to vintage, and religious to whimsical — it’s super easy to send photo cards and customized holiday greetings to everyone on your recipient list. Save the paper, the postage and the carbon emissions required to deliver all of your physical cards by sending them virtually with a few mouse clicks. Visit sites like Cocodot and ModernGreetings.com to get started.

Wrap Up Gifts With Reusable Items Or Make DIY Wrapping Paper
Instead of rolling out the wrapping paper, wrap up your presents with a beautiful reusable scarf or Bobo Wrap. The lucky receiver of your gift can pay a Bobo Wrap forward by using the fabric to wrap his/her next gift offering, or if you use a scarf, it may be enjoyed time and time again while no paper goes to waste! You may also make so many types of festive DIY wrapping paper using household items and brown grocery bags. Get inspired by perusing the gorgeous gift wrap ideas seen here. If you’re not at all crafty, simply wrapping gifts in plain newspaper or comics and adding a nice bright ribbon will do the trick!

 

Think Outside The Box
Life’s greatest gifts can’t be wrapped up in a box: the gift of time, the gift of learning a new skill, the gift of being afforded the opportunity to pursue a pastime or passion. There’s no need to purchase a tangible item to really wow someone. Kids will love receiving dance, music, sports or horseback riding lessons, a zoo membership, a certificate to learn from grandma how to make her delicious apple pie. And not purchasing ‘stuff’ is a green act in and of itself.

 

BYOBags for Shopping and Skip the Gift Wrap Offered At the Store
If holiday shopping is your bag, then take along your own reusable totes to carry your presents home. Aside from the obvious eco-friendly choice to skip the offer for a paper or plastic bag, you can easily conceal your purchases in a reusable bag because your family won’t be able to tell what stores you went shopping at! There are so many chic reusable bags on the market. Check out Project Green Bag to stock up. Additionally, skip the gift wrap offered by stores. Save the precious resources and make your own wrapping paper at home instead. (See above) 

What are you fave ways to be eco-friendly over the holidays? Let us know in the comments section!

Written by: Beth Shea