How to have a Green Christmas

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and here I am talking about Christmas. Like it or not Christmas will soon be here. This Christmas I plan on having a green Christmas, greener environmentally, greener financially, and more importantly better for my family.
If we want things to change, we have to make a conscious effort. We don’t just happen to start eating healthier or happen to exercise. It takes a plan. The same thing holds true for every change, even a Christmas change.
This Christmas instead of buying plastic store bought ornament that were made by underpaid workers and shipped half way around the world, I am going to make my own. You don’t have to crafty or talented, you just have to plan a little.
Nature provides many ornament ready made. Take a walk and you might find your next ornament. Pine cones, acorns, seed pods, dried flowers, empty bird nests, or feathers are all great ornaments. Dried fruit slices from apples, pears, oranges, lemons or limes can be tied on trees with a bit of ribbon or string. Just slice the fruit and place on a cookie sheet and bake at 145 degrees for 4 to 12 hours with the door propped open to allow steam to escape. An apple or orange stuck full of whole cloves with a ribbon or string tied around it is another option. For those of flashier taste, glitter can always be added.
Found or recycled objects also can make very beautiful and interesting ornaments without using any more of our precious resources. Old wool blankets or clothing can be cut into hearts, birds, stars, trees, gingerbread man, or any shape you desire. Simply cut out two identical shapes, sandwich a loop of ribbon or twine between the shapes and you can glue or sew the shapes together. You can decorate your shapes in infinite ways. You can sew or glue on found objects like old jewelry, left over ric-rac, sequins, or buttons. Glitter glue can also be used to decorate the ornaments.
Wrapping paper is just a waste. I spend time looking for beautiful paper that expresses my style, that will look great under my Christmas tree. In reality I wrap my presents on Christmas Eve after my children have gone to sleep. By the time I’m done wrapping, I’m too tired to enjoy looking at the paper and the next morning there is no time to look at the paper. About five seconds after I open my eyes the paper is shredded all over my living room. Then gathered up into garbage bags and sent to the land fill.
This year I will be making my own Christmas paper. Simple newspaper is an easy option, and it can be composted after it is used. Pieces of fabric can be used and recycled year after year. Fabric stores all filled with beautiful choices of fabric. For those who like to antique or flea market, antique Christmas table cloths or Christmas handkerchiefs can be used as wrapping. Unprinted newspaper remnants can be bought very cheep from newspaper offices. You can decorate the paper by dipping pine cones, flowers, potatoes cut into different shapes in to paint and using them as stamps, or just leave it blank. Kids really enjoy decorating wrapping paper.
Now is the time to start planning for a greener Christmas. If I wait until December I am so busy trying to buy perfect gifts for the whole family, co-workers, friends, the children’s teacher, not to mention all the family and friend Christmas parties to attend. Then there’s my office party and my husbands office party both scheduled on the same night. The kids school Christmas program to attend. Don’t forget to decorate the house and put up the Christmas lights. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Who has time to make decisions at this point?
Now you can take walks and look for nature items to decorate your tree and house. Please don’t gather items from National or State parks as it is illegal not to mention bad for the environment. Now you can visit thrift stores and flea markets to look for found items to make Christmas decorations. Maybe even check your own closet, basement or attic. Ask Mom, Grandma, or you Aunt who saves everything. They will probably be glad to share the wealth. Now you have time to get the children or grandchildren involved in helping to make ornaments, so you can take it at a fun, slow pace.
I wish you not only a greener Christmas but a more peaceful and relaxed season.

written by Shannon Ulrich

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