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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Let’s embrace a new holiday tradition.  Reduce your consumption.  Reuse ribbons and wrappings and bows.  Recycle anything you can.
Whether you celebrate the birth of Christ, commemorate the rededication of the Temple, light a kinara to honor African heritage or none of the above, this is a wonderous time of year.  There is nothing quite like the magic of the first snowfall, the glitter of the decorations, the family gatherings and the unique traditions of the season.
In our home we celebrate Christmas and sometimes it’s easy to forget, perhaps more in this season than any other, the importance of reducing consumption.
According to Bob Lilienfeld with The Use Less Stuff Report, Americans generate an average of 25 percent more waste in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than at any other time of year.  And 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.  And if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon,
the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

This year, create a new holiday tradition by resolving to reduce, reuse and recycle.


Here are some tips I hope will help:

Reduce your energy consumption by replacing your incandescent Christmas light strings with LED (light emitting diodes) light strings.  According to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) LEDs are exceptionally energy efficient when producing individual colors, many using up to 90% less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light.  For example, the amount of electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs — enough to light two 24-foot (7.3-meter) strings.

Reduce the paper and plastic bags used during this time of year by bringing your own bags as you shop for gifts or groceries.

Reuse your wrapping paper.  The Games & Toys editor at eHow.com has some wonderful ideas for reusing your wrapping paper:

  1. Use small scraps of wrapping paper to line greeting card envelopes. Simply trace the outside flap shape onto the wrapping paper and cut out, leaving the wrapping paper lining just short enough to clear the glue seal on the envelope flap.
  2. Use large pieces of wrapping paper to cover a shoe box and create a storage container.
  3. Use in paper mache projects.
  4. Cover small gift boxes and place a little note inside to make someone’s day.
  5. Shred leftover wrapping paper for package filler for another gift.
  6. Create book covers.
  7. Press used wrapping paper flat with an iron on low heat and use for background on scrap booking pages.
  8. Use as a mat for framed objects.
  9. Cut paper doll clothes from wrapping paper scraps.

Another way to reduce your wrapping paper waste is to make cloth gift bags and reuse them each year instead of buying paper wrapping.  My Nana started doing this when I was a child, sending all of our gifts in gift bags.  We saved them each year and then used them for gifts the following Christmas.  She also wrapped all of the gifts she gave us for our baby showers in cotton baby blankets.  It was a beautiful way to wrap as well as doubling the gift.

Recycle everything you couldn’t reduce and can’t reuse.  According to DoSomething.org, about 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable yet our recycling rate is only 28%. 

Time-honored family traditions and a little slice of green living really can walk hand-in-hand during the holidays!

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Reduce your energy consumption during the holidays.  The result will be a reduction in your energy costs, a lowering of your greenhouse gas emissions and, most importantly, an increase in your face-to-face family time.

As a mother of two little girls, it is sometimes a temptation to put the kids in front of the TV with the VeggieTales while we’re preparing to entertain.  Shocking, I know.  But we have made a pact this year to get our children involved with every part of our holiday preparations.  Who cares if your windows aren’t sparkling and the cranberries aren’t relished to perfection when your whole family is involved and embracing the celebration. 

Give your kids age-appropriate tasks to feel a part of the preparations:  Helping with the food prep, setting the table, making name cards and paper napkin rings or mixing up some homemade play dough to occupy little ones who may not be old enough to help julienne the veggies.

This homemade play dough recipe from The Green Parent is excellent! 


1 cup organic flour

½ cup sea salt

2 Tbs. cream of tartar

1 cup filtered water

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a saucepan.  Combine water and oil in a small bowl.  Stir into flour mixture gradually.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until very thick, stirring constantly.  Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Knead until smooth.  Store in an airtight container.

We use a few drops of essential oils to make our creations smell fantastic; usually lavender because it also promotes stress-free play time.  And we color our dough by writing on it with some non-toxic markers and then kneading in the color.

The holiday season is a time for family, friends and giving thanks so unplug the TV, DVD player, gaming systems and computers.  Save some energy and enjoy the holidays. 

Be Well.  Be Green.  Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and all other holidays I’m either unaware of or have neglected to mention.


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