• DanaAlexandraSargent

It Came Without Ribbons, It Came Without Tags…The Grinching of Christmas

Dec 22, 2015

Americans will generate an extra 7 million pounds of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

“If every family reused two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the planet. If every American family wrapped 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper” (

How-Tos for ‘The Grinching’ (some say ‘The Greening’) Of Christmas

Potted Christmas Tree: Just type “living Christmas tree” or “potted Christmas” tree and your zip into Google and you should find some resources. There are even some rental options! If you buy a cut tree, make sure you compost it, or ensure your city composts it. If you live near the beach, check if a local group will use it for dune renourishment!

Greeting Cards (that actually “Greet”): Use recycled paper, and recycled envelopes, hand-write them (they mean so much more that way, don’t you think?), go to the post office and have them posted with the ink-stamp, rather than buying stick-on stamps. The glossy picture cards that have been a tradition for the last decade or so make eco-santa concerned as they’re generally not made from recycled material and are not recyclable post-production.

Thoughtful Gifts – what a concept?!: I bet every adult (and many kids) on your lists would prefer these ideas to the packaged plastics made in China. (Some of these ideas extracted from Zero Waste Home blogger)

  • Give the gift of a donation in your giftee’s name to a group or person in need – give your giftee a picture of it, or if possible, a picture of the person in need’s response when they received it. Choose something close to the heart of your giftee

  • Gift certificates for services or meals

  • Homemade food or lotions in reusable jars

  • Hand-writtencoupons for date nights or trips to museums, picnics, movies, concerts,sporting events or other places your giftee would love!

  • Hand-written IOUs for chores

  • Plants

  • Fill a basket with family recipes or seeds and planters

  • Home-made videos of your family’s year

  • Thrift-shop stuff – people love vintage!!

  • Shop local (your Amazon gift needs a lot of gas and packaging material to get from China to the shipping plant to you or your giftee)

  • Subscriptions

  • Start a new tradition like a “white elephant” or handmade exchange, or other ideas on how to “tone down” the crazy consumerism that has become synonymous with Christmas. It should be about connecting with friends and family and having a jolly old time – not shopping until we’re all broke and exhausted!

  • Eco-themed stuff like water bottles, totes – things people can actually use

  • Get Your Icelandic On:

  • Related to gifts: Make sure you call the number on the back of any unwanted catalogs you get in the mail around this time of year and cancel future mailings.

  • Don’t forget to bring your reusable tote when shopping

Wrapping Paper and Packaging – This is a big issue with such simple solutions!!

  • SAVE all the tissue, ribbons, bows, gift bags and boxes from gifts you receive (my husband LOVES this about me) and reuse them.

  • If you get the newspaper, or have magazines lying around, use them – it’s so much more fun for the giftee than traditional wrapping paper.

  • For adults, isn’t it about time we consider adults don’t “need” to tear into their gifts? Why not consider no wrapping at all for everything except Santa’s gifts to the kids?

  • Call 800-828-2214or click on Drop-off Sites to find the nearest drop-off location for plastic loose fill peanut recycling.

  • When ordering online, try to order in time to use your USPS ground service who will already be making the rounds about towns

Eco-Up Your Parties or Family Gatherings:

  • Don’t overcook. I don’t mean not to burn your food (but don’t do that either!); also, don’t cook or bake too much! Nobody needs a selection of 3 pies and 5 types of cookies.

  • Food waste is the second largest component in U.S. landfills and a huge emitter of methane (a very bad greenhouse gas); we also waste 30-40% of our food supply-more than 20 pounds of food per person per month (

  • Buy organic, local produce and happy meat or fish (see previous blog posts for tips).

  • Don’t use plastic cutlery or Styrofoam (these are not recylcable at most general recylcing facilities).

  • Make cute labels for your guests’ glasses so they are sure to use just one all through the night, even after the holiday punch is gone! NO PLASTIC WATER or SODA BOTTLES for crying out loud! Make some punch, damnit.

  • Turn down the heat before your guests arrive – they’ll heat it up!!

And don’t worry if it’s too late for you this year — Resolve to Grinch Your Christmas Next year!!!

Obligatory – Elf Scene – Smiling’s my favorite:

All I want for Christmas is… Some More Good Resources To Help Me Grinch My Christmas Next Year!

Oh look – a Christmas miracle:

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