A friend who shares my passion for sustainability recently did a sustainable holiday post on his own blog, closing with this nice thought:
Christmas is only a consumer holiday if you actively let it be one. If you keep it simple and distill more meaning of the holiday into simple and elegant gestures your memories of it will ultimately be more vivid, nostalgic, and heart-warming as will those of everyone around you. And your planet will be a better place for it.
I definitely left that post with a smile, excited to think of what memories Joe & I will cherish most when we look back at these formative years of our marriage.
I also loved noting that he & I have a common memory of family Christmases:
…I grew up in a household where you NEVER threw away a Christmas bow. On Christmas morning, there was always a bag for trash (torn up wrapping paper and other packaging) and a smaller one to hold all of the bows that came off of packages. These would be put away and brought out in later years to be reused on newly wrapped gifts.
My family never wastes a bow. Why would you? Some bows I loved so much that I waited to see how got them stuck to their package each Christmas (a particular purple & silver number comes to mind). While I admittedly used a fair amount of ribbon, so that I could run the scissors along its ribbed edge & get it all curly, I tried to use an equal amount of bows that could be reused.
If I’m confessing to my indulgent holiday habits, then I might as well put this one out there: I have never unwrapped gifts carefully enough to save the paper. I love wrapping gifts, & I’m not much for gift bags… Obviously, my gift-giving practices could be a little greener. But how?
For starters, look at what your wrapping. How can the gift packaging be more sustainable? Can you find gifts that aren’t wrapped in plastic? That don’t require batteries? That come from recycled materials? (These are topics I’ve covered, but they’re key to keep in mind. Especially if you’re like me & love justifying your guilty pleasures. I.e. I can use sooo much ribbon because this gift is made from recycled water bottles & corn husks! It’s illogical, but sometimes it happens to the best of us.)
At my bridal shower, my sister gave me an awesome gift, wrapped in dish towels & using dish scrubbers as bows. Brilliant! What could be better than adding gifts to the gift you’re wrapping?
If you’re buying gifts for someone who has a well-established home front (though I feel like I will always be in need of a fresh dish towel), then inhabitat suggests wrapping smaller gifts in a nice pair of socks or a pretty scarf. I feel like this will become one of my favorite gift-giving practices–especially since I’m convinced everyone appreciates a new scarf as much as I do.
With the advent of tumblr & Pinterest, I cannot attempt to give you any novel ideas for using recycled materials to make your own pretty packaging… but I definitely suggest checking out these sites. For example, in a quick search I found this number–with simple twine (which decomposes), brown paper (which isn’t bleach & could easily come from all those paper bags you’ve stored up) & sprigs snipped from bushes.
Here are some other favorites to get your creativity flowing:
- use seasonal fabric–as wrapping paper or to stitch up small gift bags that can be endlessly reused
- use these tips from Gaiam (like using a light bulb instead of a bow or wrapping things in–wait for it–MAPS!)
- don’t write off newspaper–all these DIY-ers have made it less tacky & more trendy if you add a few nice accepts (as a girl who loves type & journalism, I adore things wrapped in newspaper)
- give gifts that come in jars, like homemade brownie or cookie mix, cranberry-infused vodka (an idea found on Pinterest) & the like–no wrapping required
Still struggling? Look at these great pictures: