Wrap your gifts in old maps, wallpaper, or comics. Better yet, give children art paper, colored pens, crayons or markers and create artwork especially for giftwrap.
Use up your fabric scraps as wrapping. Double the gift by wrapping it with a scarf or towel. For larger gifts sew a bag that can be used as a tote after the holidays.
If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
When it comes to dinner, use dishes, glasses and flatwear instead of disposables. Haunt the thrift stores, estate and yard sales for special dishes or luncheon sets. I found the glass set just like my Mom’s from the 60s. As kids we loved the clear glass dish with compartments, punch cup and get this, a cigarette holder. How un-PC for today but de rigueur for the period. Think Mad Men, AMC’s award winning series set in the 1960s .
Run the dishwasher instead of washing by hand. It saves water. Turn the dishwasher off and air dry. Only use the power boost if your water heater is far from the kitchen or you keep it too low to sanitize your dishes. 160°F is the recommended temperature. Here’s a link to a strip that you can use to test your dishwasher’s temperature.
If you haven’t switched your light to LEDs yet, check your local stores for sales and stock up for next year. You can recycle your old lights for new cooler LEDs that use less power. Did you know that you can power more lights from a single socket by using LEDs? The energy miser lights can be strung up to a ½ mile long and powered from a single electrical socket
Switch to soy or beeswax candles and votive lights. They are less toxic and come in scents. Be careful if you use scents as guests may be sensitive to chemical smells.
Consider buying and recycling a real tree. This year I tuned into the tree growers promotion on the benefits of natural trees. Of course, it’s self supporting for the industry but the trees have signficiant environmental benefits beyond the wonderful aroma. A 4″ fir tree will reduce atmospheric carbon by 35 pounds. Check out the cool tree benefit calculator for the additional benefits trees provide. In addition to the positives benefits of natural trees, avoiding artificial trees reduces reliance on petroleum based products and doesn’t add non-biodegradable materials to landfill.
Check out Earth 911 for recycling opportunities in your community. According to the City of Raleigh, All natural Christmas trees collected by the City’s Solid Waste Services Department, including those taken to the Yard Waste Center, are recycled into wood chips and mulch. These products are sold to the general public at the Yard Waste Center, which can be reached at 250-2728. Be sure to remove all bags, stands, lights, tinsel, ornaments and other non-vegetative items from the tree before placing it at the curb no later than 7 a.m. on the collection day. You should not put trees at the curbside prior to their collection day. Artificial trees being discarded should be disassembled and placed in garbage carts. For a fee, Raleigh residents and businesses also can take discarded natural Christmas trees to the City’s Yard Waste Center, located at 900 N. New Hope Road. Minimum fees are $6.25 for residents and $12.50 for commercial customers.
For comparison the average driver’s car 11,000 pounds of CO2 per year. An air flight from CA to NY generates 1,400 pounds of CO2 per passenger. You can buy carbon offsets for your travel through NC Greenpower. Alternatives to purchasing carbon credits include reducing travel, carpooling, using public or alternative transportation.
Use less by buying local, ordering goods online, planting trees etc. Quick links:
Have a wonderful holiday season! Eat, drink, be merry and enjoy your family and friends.