Folks frequently look to us for suggestions on how to make the holidays less wasteful and more eco-friendly. Here’s some ideas, and we welcome you to send us yours to add to this list!
For gift wrap we encourage folks to use re-usable wrapping, “furoshiki”. Furoshiki are a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that are a re-usable, eco-friendly way to wrap gifts, carry groceries, decorate the home, and so much more. If re-usable wrapping seems too pricey we recommend using recycled materials to wrap gifts. Boxes you’ve saved, the paper packing materials that comes in boxes, old maps, paper grocery bags, magazine pages, old calendar pages – “brown paper packages tied up with string” can be so lovely! There are also lots of alternatives to ribbon, including twine (which is recyclable and compostable), paper curled with scissors, clippings of plants from your garden, and more!
It seems to me that a lot of the gifts we give and receive are also wasteful. Gifts do not have to be expensive to be valuable. This year I’m giving Chico Bags to lots of people. Now that the plastic bag ban has been passed, what better gift to give than reusable bags (and Chico Bags are cool because they fold up into themselves and can be stored in a purse or glove compartment). Gift giving times are also opportunities to help educate your friends and make an impact with your shopping dollars! There are countless eco-friendly, fair trade, locally produced, organic, recycled or sustainable gifts to choose from.
- Gifts that can be passed on are also great! Books can be given to a friend or donated to the library after they’ve been read.
- Gifts that can be imbibed are great too! If you love Kean Coffee, for example, buy a gift card and/or a pound of organic coffee for that coffee lover in the family.
- Do you love Pie-Not? Shirley’s Bagels? The Pizza Bakery? Haute Cakes? Introduce a friend to your favorite local restaurant by giving them a gift card – you’re also supporting a local business.
- If designer clothes, shoes and accessories are your gift of choice, visit thredup.com and check out their amazing selection of gently pre-owned clothes. They come clean and tagged and ready for gifting.
- There are times when you just have to buy that new toy or electronic gadget. If you’re shopping on Amazon, use smile.amazon and direct a percentage of your purchase to your favorite non-profit. It costs you no more and those small donations can really add up for our local non-profits. Goodshop.com does a similar thing.
- Folks can even make a statement with their shopping dollars by supporting their favorite non-profits and giving gift memberships or donating in loved ones names.
I don’t really have any advice regarding trees. There is a debate between the “real tree” vs. “fake tree” and which is more sustainable. I’ve used the same fake tree for a decade and I’ll likely continue to use it for at least that long. I personally can’t stomach the idea of cutting down a young tree just to display it in my living room for a month, but know that those trees ARE basically an agricultural product grown for that purpose just like grapes are grown to be eaten. Each city has it’s own version of Christmas tree recycling. The City of Newport Beach suggests cutting theater up and placing it in your green waste. Another option is to purchase a live native tree that you intend to plant in your yard after the holiday!
– Lori Whalen, ENC Director of Communications