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Trimming the Holiday ‘Waistline’

The holiday season is the most non eco-friendly time of the year with all the additional waste we generate. But is doesn’t have to be that way! There are many very simple changes we can make to reduce our waste significantly during this time. The possibilities are endless if you use your imagination, but here are just a few smart and inexpensive green ideas.

Start from the inside

A great alternative to the ever-popular packing peanuts is real peanuts! And you can eat them after, which makes them even more fun!

Popcorn is a smart stuffer, too, and it can be thrown outside for the birds or squirrels to eat when the gift giving is over.

Fabric is another wonderful and age-old gift stuffer. Often silky or shiny - though there is no rule that says it must be - it is very pretty and looks much better along with a more expensive gift.

And then we have the trusty old shredded paper, but get imaginative with what you shred. Instead of shredded bills or newspaper (which contain ink and can bleed) try shredding last year’s wrinkled wrapping paper or old glossy magazines!

Wrapping and packaging

The perfect option to gift wrap is pretty tea towels or glittery scarves! Wrap your gift the same as you would with regular paper, and tie it with a string or fabric ribbon or use that glittery scarf to secure it. For bigger gifts, use beautiful, bright bath towels or colorful sheet sets.

Try wrapping your gift in another gift. This can be many different things such as a gift of cooking supplies in a cooking pot using a fabric ribbon to keep it closed, a planting pot filled with garden supplies or a jewelry box filled with jewelry and wrapped in a beautiful silky fabric bow. Another great choice for larger gifts is a backpack or any other nice bag or piece of luggage.

There are many great eco-friendly paper products available now (though sometimes costly). One is a wonderful biodegradable product which is a ‘seed paper’ wrap product. This unique idea makes the wrap a great green gift because instead of tossing it when gift giving is over, you simply throw it in your garden and it will grow beautiful blossoms!

Any kind of funky fabric can be used as well; look in thrift stores or at flea markets (or your own closet) for unique patterns of fabric or even clothes such as large vintage T-shirts, which can be used as they are or cut and made into wrap.

Also try posters, outdated calendars, old road maps, magazines, leftover wallpaper, last year’s wrap, last year’s gift boxes and gift bags, comic books or even paper bags decorated with recycled craft supplies. If you can imagine it, you can use it!

Finishing touches

A very popular green gift topper to replace paper bows is a compact fluorescent light bulb. It is a little gift in itself as it helps the gift recipient reduce their carbon footprint as well as saving money on their electric bill, which makes it a gift that keeps on giving.

You can also try cute little sprigs of dried berries or branches, pinecones or homemade ribbons and bows made from fabric or string. Craft items can also be used in any way imaginable to design your own gift topper.

Last year’s holiday cards can be this year’s name tags- cut little shapes and fold them in half so one side shows a design and the other is blank. Last year’s wrap can be used, too. Holiday cards also have an absolute endless variety of other uses when doing crafts; just remember: send E-cards this year!

Earth-friendly and family-friendly

Get the whole family involved and ask your kids what kind of environmentally-friendly crafts or projects they are working on and find ideas there. Not only will you make new and wonderful holiday memories, you may be pleasantly surprised at just how much they can add to this project.

Ask Grandma or Grandpa what they used to do! They may not know it, but they are probably a wealth of information on how to recycle and reuse. Back in the day, my Grandma and her family certainly didn’t have major department stores or any money for that matter, so they had to be creative and use what they had.

Have a safe and happy green holiday season and let’s do the right thing and make it a green New Year, too!

Freelance writer and owner of Green Clean, an environmentally-friendly residential cleaning company in Calgary, JoAnn has written many articles on green living and is passionate about the environment. For more information, contact 403-875-1610 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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