I'm Dreaming of a ... Green Christmas (Family-friendly tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday season)

06 Dec

Christmas time is pretty magical, but most people have a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. Yes, it's great to meet family and friends and give gifts and share food, but it also means a lot more work for certain family members. I'm talking about us, Moms. We usually do all the shopping, cleaning, meal-preparation, and planning what happens when and where. It's a big job, but we can make it easier. And in making it easier we can also make it eco-friendly! How great is that?

So, what are some ways to take the burden off yourself and also the environment?

1) Ditch the wrapping paper, ditch the battery-operated toys and focus on family experiences. It's really quite easy. And it will save you money!

2) Decorate and wrap presents using reusable or recyclable materials. Instead of buying (expensive, landfill-filling) wrapping paper, use brown paper and later reuse it for art projects with the kids. Or use newspaper, if you have some lying around. I've even used old calendars and magazines to either wrap gifts or make my own (very unique and quite attractive) gift bags. You can also find a million DIY and upcycling ideas to make Christmas tree ornaments or festive home decor.

3) As much as possible, try to buy gifts that are sustainably produced. If you really can't avoid buying battery-operated plastic toys (we've all been there), you can at least get recharge-able batteries for example.

4) Instead of buying toys, get the kids gift certificates to their favourite play place, amusement park or kids' theatre. This way the gift is a memorable experience rather than a "thing." If you'd like to tone down the materialism a little bit, this is a great teaching moment.

5) Along those lines, another way to reduce your Christmas carbon footprint is to opt for a family vacation rather than buying loads of gifts for everyone. But this only works if you don't fly, and instead focus on enjoying a local destination and creating family memories. Try to escape the crazy consumerism that Christmas often devolves into and you may find that you actually like it.

6) And don't forget to donate old toys and clothes to people who can use them! Ideally the clothes and toys you donate should be in good condition and clean. Hospitals, kindergartens and schools will often happily accept donations, and there are also charities who specifically collect toys for children in need. Though of course they often require that donated toys come in their original packaging, so that doesn't actually tick the "green Christmas" box after all. But helping others always feels good and is something worth teaching your kids!

7) While we're on the topic of old clothes, here's a great way to clean out your closet and ALSO get some "new" clothes at the same time!! My friends and I do a "clothes exchange" about twice a year. We gather the clothes we no longer wear (ladies, you know what I'm talking about. The skirt you bought because it was on sale but then never wear, the dress you used to go out in but is now just not your style, the shirt that would almost be perfect so you're going to get it altered as soon as you have the time, etc.). Then when we can agree on a time and place everyone puts their laundry basket in the living room while kids and moms play and drink coffee and talk and try on clothes. It's great, particularly if you and your friends have similar taste and are roughly the same size (but you'll find that lots of things are universal and then you feel like you're in "The Sisterhoid of the Traveling Pants"). Some guidelines: clothes should be in good condition (not hole-y) and clean (you don't have to wash and iron everything and put it on a hanger, but if it's been jammed in a drawer for 10 years then maybe wash it first so it won't smell weird). Also, don't feel weird if no one wants your clothes; you don't wear them either!

At the end, if there are some things no one wants, they get donated to a local charity or homeless shelter. And this is great for children's clothes as well! Fast fashion is terrible for the environment, so here's a way to make small changes that can have a big impact!

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