This week's challenge comes from Mrs. Green.
Share ideas on eco-friendly gift giving. We're looking for anything which helps us choose "green" gifts that will please the receiver. Feel free to offer links, do-it-yourself projects, etc. ... the more creative the better.
December holidays are one of the most wasteful holidays. This year, I am in full green-force and am going to challenge my husband and myself to improve our wasteful habits. Here are two areas I am going to focus on:
Reduce the environmental impact of gift packaging. Gift giving can be so wasteful if you take into account gift bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper, tape, and even the plastic packaging that the gift could come in. Here is what I do before and after the gift giving occurs.
- Choose gift bags over wrapping paper. Gift bags can be reused at least several times. I usually keep mine in a storage bin in the basement.
- Use newspaper as wrapping paper. I only do this with my husband. I would be afraid that our extended family would think I am crazy.
- Reuse tissue paper. If the paper is not too crinkled, I straighten it out and fold it. I've been able to reuse at least 50% of the tissue paper I receive with the gifts. I sometime use it as lining between pots, pans, and dishes.
- Reuse boxes. I save smaller boxes that come in the mail and use them for gift wrapping.
- Create your own tags. Use any scraps of thick paper or magazine cutouts to glue together a personalized tag.
My Challenge: I am challenging myself with making the 3-hour gift exchange session with the in-laws more green. Usually, the big, black plastic trash bags come out and they are stuffed with wrapping paper, tissue paper, and any other trash. Are you cringing yet? I am!
Give eco-friendly gifts. We usually purchase gifts that our family requested, so it is a little difficult to buy truly green gifts. Here are my strategies:
- Avoid buying gifts that come in plastic package. The less packaging the better. Cardboard boxes can be recycled.
- Add a *bonus* eco-friendly gift. Even if you're shopping off a list of specific items that were requested, throw in a small eco-friendly gift like an all-natural lotion or lip balm.
- Create homemade gifts. Every year, my sister-in-law creates tree ornaments with her twin girls to gift to their grandparents. Look in your yard or a local park to see what natural elements (pinecones, sticks, acorns) you can incorporate.
Eco-Friendly Gift Idea: Succulents are easy to grow and divide. Take a leaf off an existing plant, leave it on the windowsill in indirect sunlight for a few days, and then put the end into soil. The leaf will wither and die, but will sprout new succulent growth. I am successful most of the time at growing a new succulent. Purchase a small terra cotta pot or reuse a pot you already have to plant the succulent and give as gifts. Succulents require specific soil, but you can mix it yourself.
I will be focusing on my two challenges above to reduce the waste our extended family produces from gift giving and adding a small eco-friendly gift to get my extended family thinking about making small changes themselves. Change starts with you. All it takes is one little gift that can start a conversation and open up someone else's eyes to a whole new way of living.
Be the change that you want to see in the world!