by Falon French
Every year, around the holidays, electricity bills and trash output can skyrocket. At a time when most families are trying to save money and find ways to bond with the family, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your spending and your impact on the environment.
One of the biggest money wasters of the season is wrapping paper. This year, try recycling or reusing for a unique and ingenious wrapping solution:
- Aluminum Foil. Instead of spending money on shiny wrapping paper, reuse your aluminum foil. Simply wash foil and press with a flat object to remove wrinkles.
- Recycled Paper. This year, reuse newspapers, magazines, maps, or even calendar pages as your wrapping paper. Using comics, recipes, and helpful articles will add an extra treat to your gift.
- Reusable Wrapping. Make the “wrapping” part of your gift – put together a gift basket, use a reusable tote, or even buy a nice scarf or piece of fabric and wrap it around your present.
With all the choices available for consumers and craft-lovers, green Christmas cards are easier than ever!
- Buy Green. Many non-profit organizations (such as Audubon and World Wildlife Fund) sell cards to fund research and outreach efforts. Make the most of your money this year!
- Make Cards. A fun experience for the whole family, homemade cards have an extra sentimental appeal. Recycle craft paper, glitter, and magazine photos to create a one-of-a-kind message.
- Photo-Cards. Instead of buying cards with a generic picture, print your favorite family photo on some recycled paper for a personalized update.
Making your own decorations is a great way to save some money and bring together the family for a creative bonding experience. These decorations will make a great gift for friends and family members, used as stocking stuffers, or even dress up your tree with some memorable moments.
- Pine Cones. At this time of year, pine cones, leaves, and small branches are easy to find. Decorate with some scrap ribbons or fabric, glitter, or as a picture frame for a unique ornament.
- Play Dough. Mix 4 parts flour to 1 part salt, add small amounts of water and knead until you have smooth dough. Cook in microwave or oven. Use food coloring or paint to decorate.
- Scrap Stuff. Use old CDs, pieces of colored glass, dried leaves or flowers, leftover wax, or other bits and pieces to design creative and shiny ornaments or other decorations.
At some point, most families have to find hostess gifts or food to share for a holiday party or two. This year, bring a festive and homemade treat to parties and wow everyone with your inventiveness.
- Organic Mincemeat. This pie filler will definitely get used! Combine organic berries and fruit, add a little cognac or brandy for a grown-up twist, and jar in a pretty bottle.
- Gift Baskets. Make your own gift basket with organic treats. A bottle of local wine or jam, some organic cheeses, and organic crackers in a homemade basket will always be a big hit!
- Fruit Bowls. Instead of buying premade fruit or veggie bowls, carve your own watermelon, pumpkin, or gourd for a unique and creative platter! Stuff with organic fruits or veggies.
Every year, hundreds of Christmas trees are cut down and eventually composted (or, worse, sent to a landfill) just a few weeks later. Lights on the tree will drive up electricity bills, and silver tassel and fake snow will go straight to the trash. This year, keep your tree green!
- Live Trees. Instead of cutting a tree, get a planted tree and replant it after the holidays.
- LED Lights. LED lights are far more efficient than original Christmas lights. Reduce your bills and carbon footprints by buying LED lights this year.
- Tree Tassels. Use candy canes, homemade popcorn strings, or recycled paper chains commercially-made tassels. Can be eaten, recycled, or fed to the birds after the holidays.
Want to know even more creative ideas? Join us as we partner with the Indiana Recycling Coalition and Green Piece Indy for a free “Season’s Greenings” webinar on December 14 at noon. Register now. Space is limited!