RECYCLE YOUR OLD CELLPHONE. Getting a new cell phone for Christmas? Not sure what to do with the old one? Now, you can drop off that old phone at any Staples store, as part of the cell phone recycling program. Each year, 130 million cell phones are thrown out, weighing approximately 65,000 tons. Recycling your old phone prevents hazardous elements like mercury, cadmium and lead from ending up in our landfills.
MAKE YOUR OWN WRAPPING PAPER. Most mass-produced wrapping paper you find in stores is not recyclable and ends up in landfills. Instead, here’s a great chance to get creative! Wrap presents with old maps, the comics section of a newspaper, or children’s artwork. If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields!
STOCKING STUFFERS: TEST YOUR ECO- KNOWLEDGE. A great stocking stuffer is “guilt-free” chocolate! Give the gift of organic, fair-trade chocolate and you can eat your way to a better planet.
BUY ENERGY-SAVING “LED” HOLIDAY LIGHTS. Now you can decorate your house with LED lights that use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights, and can save your family up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season! LED lights are available at many major retailers, including Target, Costco, and Ace Hardware.
GET A PESTICIDE-FREE TREE. Demand is on the rise for Christmas trees that are not covered in chemicals. Some growers use 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants. The good news is that there are now a number of tree-farms that sell pesticide-free trees, so ask your local Christmas tree seller, or search for an organic tree farm near you.
RECYCLE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE. Ninety-eight percent of Christmas trees were grown on farms, not in forests, so at least it’s not as if you’re cutting down an ancient tree. Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. While your tree won’t fit in the recycling bin with your newspapers and bottles, you can recycle your tree: many cities offer programs to turn your tree to mulch or wood chips. Call (800) CLEANUP or visit www.earth911.org to find the tree-recycling program near you.
DONATE YOUR TIME OR MONEY TO AN ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP. Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering! There are countless ways to help improve your community—and the planet—from cleaning up a local river to helping inner city kids experience the outdoors for the first time. Contact your local Sierra Club to find out about volunteer opportunities near you. A donation in honor of a loved one can also be a special holiday gift.
DO ECO FRIENDLY COMPARISON SHOPPING! Browse, Compare, Review and Shop the Eco Friendly way!
- Homemade coupons for activities (like hikes, bike rides, or back rubs) are always a good option.
- Make a donation in someone’s name. There are a lot of great organizations out there that can benefit from your generosity. Check out www.CharityNavigator.com to find charities and see how they are ranked and how they spend their money.
- Give a national parks pass or a membership to a local botanical garden or aquarium.
- Like giving care packages? Does your giftee need a little nudge into eco-friendliness? Give them a green starter gift kit! It could include any variety of things, but a nice set to start with includes a stainless steel water bottle, a reusable bag, organic snacks, and a natural lip balm.
Stores become crowded and busy during the holiday season, so it’s a good idea to get a head start on your Christmas shopping. Whether buying gifts is your favorite or least favorite thing to do, you can still go about it in an eco-friendly way.
To prevent multiple trips to the stores, first make a list of who you have to buy for and what types of gift you are looking to buy. You can get ideas for the people you are shopping for by looking online first. You can even go to specific store’s websites and determine the exact item you want to buy. Not only does this help you save gas, but it also makes you more organized so you don’t forget to buy a gift for someone.
Eco-friendly Christmas gifts should be efficient and practical. Even if the person you’re buying for is not the most environmentally friendly person, there are green gift ideas that can work for them. For example, treat them to a special event like a concert, musical, dinner, museum, etc. While these gifts are not something tangible, they make memories.
Speaking of memories, creating an album of photos and writings would be a more endearing gift for a friend than any object you could buy.
In these times of tight budgets, maybe it’s a good year to “do” something for a friend rather than to “buy” them something. Offer to help them clean out their garage, watch their children for a night, pet sit while they are away for the holidays, split logs for their fireplace, etc. This is a great idea for older relatives who seem to have everything they need already! Many of your family members may actually appreciate something “done” for them rather than receiving a gift.
Gift baskets can be very affordable if you make them yourself. Personalize them with little things that remind you of your relationship with them.
When you peruse the aisles, look for items made from recyclable material and natural fibers. Another option is to do a good thing for the environment in your friend or family member’s name. For example, adopt an animal, plant a tree, donate money to their favorite organization, etc.
Eco-friendly Christmas gifts have the ability to increase awareness, and there are so many gift options that you can find the perfect ones for each and every person on your list. It might take a little extra planning and research on your part, but eco-friendly presents can make the world a better place.