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Have A Green Christmas

Updated on November 25, 2012

The holidays are a fun time of year with lots of gifts and decorations but unfortunately it creates tons of waste filling our landfills.

How can we change?

By buying reusable products. If you use something at least twice you’ve saved that much from being thrown away.

Christmas Trees-

Each year 50 million real trees are bought and 30 million of those trees go into the garbage after the season is over.

One acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people.

How can we change this situation?

Artificial trees have come a long way in looking more and more like a real tree. Some come complete with lights so all you have to do is put three or four parts together, plug it in and you are set to go. These trees can be used over and over again. They disassemble down to fit into a box that doesn’t take up much space. Store it under a guest bed, in the attic, closet or basement until the next year.

Another option is buying a real tree in a pot, after the holidays you can plant it outside in your yard or out in the country. Either way you aren’t killing a tree and adding to the environment.

If you absolutely feel the need to buy a real tree, some places have composting stations set up to take your dead tree. They will shred it and use it for gardening mulch in the spring.

Gift Wrap-

This adds up to about 4 million tons of waste. We don’t think about how much is thrown away after our holiday fun is over but I’m sure you have realized how much more garbage you carry out compared to the rest of the year.

Due to the dyes, coating and plastics added these products are difficult to recycle.

I bought heavy-duty decorated boxes a few years a go and reuse them over and over again. I also purchase the nicer ribbon with wire and make my own bows we recycle again and again. Just roll the ribbon up and store in one of the boxes.

I have a sister in law that doesn’t recycle anything and finds this amusing but most everyone else doesn’t have a problem with it especially after they see how nice my gifts look. They are much more attractive than any of the bags or wrapped presents anyone else brings.

As boxes begin to wear you can repaint or rewrap the lids and bottoms separately continuing to use these great containers.

Christmas Cards-

This is a tradition I would gladly see go by the wayside but unfortunately many people still enjoy doing it, especially the older generation. I feel obligated so I do still send some out.

With email and ecards this will eventually disappear but until then there are ways to help with this wasteful form of greeting.

We throw out 2.65 billion cards each year, that’s 200,000 trees.

Hemp is a much better resource but not easily found in America. You can find some hemp products online but recycled paper is more readily available. Another cool thing I found are cards you can plant. Wild flower seeds are imbedded inside each card so next planting season your friends and family can put the paper in their flowerbed, cover with dirt, water and they’ll have pretty blooms to enjoy. It’s two gifts in one.

The Sierra Club offers cards made from recycled paper and a portion of the proceeds goes to help the environment and plant more trees.

Christmas Food-

I’m just as guilty as the next person about wasting food. I always cook too much and end up throwing out some items. I am doing better but could still improve.

Try not to cook more than your family can eat. Americans throw out around 28 billion pounds of leftovers each year. I can only imagine how many people that would feed.

We should make less or invite those who don’t have anywhere to go. I often see friends online in other states who say they will be spending the holiday alone eating pizza or carry out food. Just imagine if we all invited one or two other people to our homes during this time how much less food would be wasted. We all know a lonely neighbor who is a widower or someone who lives away from family.


It seems these days that everything runs on batteries. You get a toy and it says on the box: batteries not included.

Buy rechargeable when possible and if not at least be sure to recycle them. Most battery stores will take them.


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    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Nifwlseirff, I've used fabric for my quilting friends as part of their gift before and it's a great idea. I didn't think about using it for other people. Do you serge the edges so it doesn't unravel?

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I love using fabric to wrap presents - I use the fabric I've collected for patchwork - it's nice to see it more often than when I open the cupboard door. But you do need to let people know that the fabric isn't part of the gift, unless you specifically want it to be!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Bloggering, I've had a fake one for years, they look real enough for me.

      Lady_E, left over turkey is great. I freeze mine for later meals.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Very thoughtful - particularly about cooking too much.

      If it gets too much, I just have turkey for the whole week.

      Turkey Sandwich

      Potatoes, gravy and Turkey

      Pasta and Turkey

      Turkey in Tortilla.....

      Happy Xmas.

    • bloggering profile image

      bloggering 6 years ago from Southern California

      Great ideas! I have a 4 foot fake Christmas tree in a planter that has lasted for years and still looks much easier than dealing with a real tree.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Daffy, it's tough when we buy big turkeys and everything makes a huge amount. This year I did better buy remembering foods we didn't eat or finish last year. I left some off my menu and made a half size amount of other recipes and it worked better. Putting leftover turkey in freezer bags for later meals helps too.

    • Daffy Duck profile image

      Daffy Duck 6 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

      I'm concernded about the planet as well and was going to write a hub about recycling this season but you beat me to it.

      What I didn't think about was how much leftovers we throw away. That's a lot of waste. I always try not to throw any food out but am not as successful as I would like to be.

      Voted up and useful, awesome, interesting!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, carcro.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really great advise. There unfortunately is so much waste at xmas time, especially with all the trees, wrapping, boxes and packaging and food. We all need to do our part. Thanks for sharing this! Voted Up and Awesome.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Nellieanna, I got a kick out of that video too.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh, yes, Pamela - except I'm probably more your mother's generation. Mine was born in 1892! (of course, I was a miracle baby!) Mother always attributed her saving ways to the Scottish part of her heritage, though she might have made them look extravagant! She somehow made it fun, though - perhaps due to the Irish and English parts of her ancestry. . . . :-) I love that video of the little Santa & reindeer!

      Your green efforts are important, even if the recipients don't get it.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Nellieanna, your mother's generation knew how to reuse and save. I've signed cards in pencil so people could erase it and reuse if they wanted. Not sure if anyone ever did.

      Shalycriston, if we all do our part we can make a difference.

    • shalycriston profile image

      Shaly Criston 6 years ago from USA

      Very informative ideas for Christmas. Interesting hub thanks to share.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      My gift wrapping has always been somewhat a recycling project. My mother practically invented recycling! She would sign a card on the inside on the very bottom 1/8th of an inch, so one could snip it off and use it again! haha.

      Good article!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Lou, it does take less time. I only have to run ribbon around it and tie up bows.

      Susan, I forgot to add tissue paper. I save mine too. It's usually crinkled a bit when we put it in bags and boxes anyway so unless it has tears I keep it.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      In my basement I have a section for empty gift bags, boxes, ribbons and bows. After moving out of the house my sons still come back when they need gifting materials. I even save the tissue paper if it is in good enough shape. Excellent article on having a green Christmas!

    • Lou1842 profile image

      Lou1842 6 years ago

      Love the tips on this. Replacing gift wrap with boxes is a great idea. And think of all the time you'll save on wrapping too.

      Rechargeable batteries are also good. It will save you money in the long run as well.