Thursday, December 10, 2009

41 Ways to Make your Holiday Green

All of the brightly-wrapped gifts found under many trees in Ann Arbor homes this holiday season have children (okay, adults too!) dreaming about what they’ll unwrap come Christmas morning. That day, presents will be torn into, ribbons torn off with glee, and bows quickly discarded as the treasure under the paper is unwrapped, and the pile of discarded wrapping paper grows on the floor.

Re-using and recycling wrapping material is a great way to cut down on the amount of trash disposed of. Giving earth-friendly gifts is also good for the environment, and while it may take just a bit of creativity, is well worth the effort. Here are some easy ways to help make your holiday “green,” and to reduce the amount of waste disposed at the curb in January.

Shopping Tips:
• Take reusable shopping bags.
• Consolidate your errands to save gas and time.

Gift Wrap Ideas:
• Old calendars or magazine photos.
• Wallpaper scraps.
• Bags decorated by your children.
• Old homework papers.
• Sunday Comics for wrapping paper.
• Gift bags that can be or are reused.
• Gift as a wrapping: towel, scarf, basket, pillowcase …
• Clean food containers for sturdy packing around fragile items.
• Empty paper towel or toilet paper tubes for small gifts.
• Shoelaces instead of ribbons to tie packages.
• Reuse packing peanuts or bubble wrap.
• Cornstarch peanuts. They stick when you wet them. Include a note letting people know they will dissolve in water and shouldn’t be recycled with Styrofoam.
• Recycle your paper wrapping paper.

Low-Waste Gift Ideas:
• Programmable thermostats.
• Gift certificate for a restaurant or store (perhaps a locally-owned business).
• A radio, flashlight or other ‘hand crank’ item.
• Durable and recycled products and holiday cards.
• Homemade or locally produced (Zingermans, anyone?)bread delivered once a week for a month.
• Collected family recipes in a recipe box or scrap book.
• Dinner delivered once a week for a month.
• Baby sitting coupons.
• Monthly lunch date with an elderly relative or friend.
• Personal lessons in music, art, sports, language, etc.
• Lawn and garden work (Visit the Downtown Home and Garden).
• Offer your talents, such as photography, financial planning, or hairstyling.
• A photo album full of personal memories (Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Kodak have easy-to use-websites where you can make a photo book).
• Video of people the recipient cares about.
• Coupons usable for chores.
• Tickets to a play, concert or sporting event (no shortage of these in Ann Arbor!).
• Tickets to a ski area (Mt. Brighton Ski Area is a short thirty-minute drive from Ann Arbor).
• Frequent flyer miles.
• Museum pass or membership (The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is ideal for families with children).
• An experience, such as a day kayaking (Gallup Park Canoe Livery offers canoe and kayak rentals during the summer).
• Gift certificate for a lesson-tennis, swimming, drums, for example.
• Gift certificate for a dinner for two.
• Donation in the name of the recipient to a favorite charity.
• Gift certificate to a used book store.
• A plant or a tree.
• Membership to an organization the recipient supports

Image courtesy Flickr: allerleirau

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