Eco Tips for a Cleaner, Greener Holiday Season

Simple and easy ways to minimize your environmental footprint...
Dec 19, 2011 8:00 AM ET

Green Living Online

Despite the rampant over-consumption and waste associated with this time of year, making a few changes in your holiday preparations can allow you to minimize your environmental footprint, without taking away any fun or festiveness.

While it’s tempting to splurge on wrapping paper this season, it certainly doesn’t do the planet any favours. Yet wrapping presents is part of the festivities, and it wouldn’t be half as exciting if you could see what you’ve received as soon as you looked under the tree! But instead of picking up several large rolls of paper from the store, this year consider some more eco-friendly ways to conceal your presents.   Use your imagination to find things that would’ve otherwise have been disposed of to wrap your gifts. Look through the comic section of the newspaper or magazines for colourful ideas, or try using wallpaper, fabric scraps, blueprints, graph paper, or even your children’s drawings to create unique wrappings. To minimize gift wrapping altogether, try wrapping a gift in a gift. Scarves, tea towels, pajamas, and tins can all double as both a gift and gift wrap. Or, decorate your own gift box or basket. Find a reusable one at a thrift shop, or create your own from a cereal or tissue box.   A new trend in trees is to create your own from found or recycled articles. For some great inspiration see what Rona’s “Green” Holiday Tree Ideas are. Whether you choose a real or artificial tree this year, there are great alternatives to using manufactured decorations. With just a little thinking ahead, consider that all your Christmas decorations can be made from organic, recycled, and scrap materials. Some ideas include organic popcorn, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, holly, seasonal berries, organic fruit and vegetables, pine cones, branches, and painted eggshells.   Natural decorations don’t have to be limited to the tree – adorn your house with interesting arrangements made from greenery from the garden and seasonal fruit. Hang greenery, twisted into wreaths or garlands, and add bright, eye-catching fruit for a unique and naturally inspired look. For info about Cascades' recycled cardboard christmas tree click here.   Christmas and candles seem to go hand in hand. Whether you make your own candles, using essential oils for aromas, or you source veggie based (often soy) or beeswax candles, these offer a beautiful ambiance and help lower your electricity bills too! Soy and beeswax candles are a good choice because they contain only plant-based agents, and are free from synthetic fragrances, paraffin, and petroleum bi-products.   This time of year is all about giving, which unfortunately also means a lot of discarded, unwanted stuff! There are great places to donate new or gently used items, helping out others in need. Check out your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, Freecycle or Canadian Red Cross to see what they are receiving as donations. For recycling of old electronics, try Samsung Recycling Direct (Canada) or Samsung Recycling Direct (USA), to find a drop off in your area.   We hope some of these tips have shown you that with a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the impact of the holidays. However you choose to celebrate, Green Living wishes everyone a joyful and peaceful holiday season. Let us know the ways you keep your holiday season cleaner and greener. E-mail us at:   Visit us at