Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't have a trashy Christmas, part 2: Reducing wrapping and shipping waste

Ninety nine percent of the trappings of Christmas end up in the landfill within six months, I read in the paper today. That's a lot of waste for one magic moment.

Lisa over at Retro Housewife Goes Green started the discussion on how we can reduce the trash in our holiday celebrations, and I'd like to offer a few more ideas that have worked for our family.

While re-thinking our gift-giving can make it more meaningful - and hopefully cut down on your holiday spend and wasted gifts - there are steps you can take to reduce the trash generated in your holiday celebrations. A lot of the trash we generate isn't even from the gifts themselves - it's from getting the gifts to the recipient.

Wrapping it up

We rely heavily on gift bags in our house. It came less from a desire to be green than the reality that I hated to trash the pretty bags after the holidays. I'll admit I love pulling out my Crown Center bags each year - it helps with a bit of the homesickness, in a strange way. But they're easy, and frankly, if the little ones break into the gifts, there's a lot less re-wrapping and re-taping needed.

Because I use bags, I also don't have to rely on bows or ribbons on my gifts, which just go in the trash anyway. If you're dead-set on using ribbons and are feeling crafty, you can find out how to make your own bows here.

Find more ideas for greener ways to wrap your gifts here.

Gifts to be shipped

As we can't be in every city for the holidays, we have to ship gifts to at least one home each season. You can be smarter in how you ship things by following these tips:

Pick flatter or modular sized gifts. Odd-shaped gifts are challenging to find packaging for and often require a larger box - meaning more freight costs and fuel to send - and extra "stuff" to pad the package.

If you must buy an odd-shaped gift (such as the guitar my sister-in-law bought my child last year), consider either padding the package with newsprint, plastic bags or leftover packaging from something received at home at work instead of buying new packing materials. In our office, we're notorious for hoarding boxes and packing materials for such occasions.

Or, buy the uniquely shaped or fragile present online and have it shipped directly from the store. It saves you the gas and hassle of trying to find appropriate shipping materials, and they typically have resources on hand to ship them effectively.

If you have several families in one city, designate a "point person" to receive and distribute the holiday gifts. Chances are they're share a celebration at some point in the Christmas season, and the gifts can be distributed at that time.

Hopefully, as Black Friday approaches, this gives you a few options to consider to make things easier on your family.

Happy holidays!


Lisa said...

Thanks for the shoot out and great ideas!

utahlawyer said...

My family has been using the same gift wrapped gift boxes for the last 12 years.

Sherry said...

I appreciated reading your trashy Christmas post so much that I shared it on Facebook!