Happy Green Holidays – Top 10 List

Yes, I’ve been away from my blog for a while.  I hope you haven’t given up on me completely.  Today I want to focus on having an Eco-Friendly, Green Holiday – whether that’s Christmas or Hanukkah or anything else.

Today I want to focus on having an Eco-Friendly, Green Holiday – whether that’s Christmas or Hanukkah or anything else.

In many cultures, the holiday season seems to be as much a time for consumerism as for celebrating the “reason for the season!” (Remember Miracle on 34th Street?)

Of course, one of the best ways to have a Green holiday is to minimize your purchases altogether. That may not be practical or even possible for some, however. The next best thing is to make smart choices in your gifts, decorations, wrapping paper, and other holiday purchases.

Below are my TOP TEN favorite tips for respecting the environment while truly enjoying the holidays.

1. If you put up a Christmas tree, purchase a live tree with its roots intact, and plant it in your yard after putting the decorations away. To properly care for your tree after the snow is gone, use a sprinkler timer, a rain gauge, and soil moisture probe.

2. Make ornaments and other decorations from items you have around your house, and live greenery from your yard. This can be a great family project if you have kids! There are many eco-friendly, non-toxic kids’ craft items available, like modeling dough, glue, soy crayons, markers, and paint.

3. If you are in the market for new lights, choose LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights, widely available at hardware and home improvement stores, as well as bargain stores. They are even available as Solar Powered for outdoor use! (I really need to get my hands on some of these!) LED lights are more costly at first but pay off in the long run. And they last a REALLY long time so you don’t have to fight with the frustration of dead bulbs every year. Curious to know just how much energy you can save? A Kill-A-Watt meter will tell you!

4. Recycle your Christmas cards. One of my favorite cards ever was sent to me by my parents a couple of years ago. It was a card I had sent THEM a few years earlier. It has a picture of two beautiful golden retrievers on the front, along with the text “Merry Christmas to two wonderful parents.” I loved the card because it was a creative way to recycle, AND it was very appropriate, with our menagerie of 4-legged “kids.” I STILL have this one stuck on my refrigerator and it makes me smile year-round. While this may not be for everyone, it may spark some creativity. Another way of recycling your cards is to turn them into gift tags. One reader sent me another tip.  Cut up old cards and turn them into bookmarks to give as gifts.  Use those fancy craft scissors to give them pretty edges.  How clever is that?! Make sure the cards you do buy are made from recycled paper.

5. Why buy gift wrap when you have so many creative options that don’t cost much or that you can make from things you may already have? An age-old strategy is using the colorful Sunday comics from the newspaper. You can also use brown paper bags or craft paper and decorate them with pretty ribbons, stamps, etc. Many people make small boxes out of their old Christmas cards. Or maybe you have a stash of colorful fabric from old sewing projects, or maybe you can even wrap the gift in a beautiful scarf?  How about getting a reusable shopping bag and using it like a gift basket? The Green Irene Eco-Tote comes in many colors and two sizes so you can use it for a variety of gifts: small or large. Then the recipient has 2 gifts in one!

6. As for gifts, you can find some wonderful things at the thrift store. Give an old item a new life with someone who will love and appreciate (and USE) it!  Clothing is a popular gift item, too. Buy organic and sweatshop-free clothes when possible.

8. Give live plants as gifts. Along with the beauty of live, green plants, you give a bit of fresh air. Plants process Carbon Dioxide and give off fresh Oxygen. Many also are great for removing toxins from the air. Just be sure to do your homework, especially if the person has pets, as many plants can be harmful or even deadly to animals. Speaking of air quality, here are some more great gift ideas to help your friends breathe easier.

8. Sometimes the best gift isn’t an actual gift.  Most people have some cause they support – animal welfare, environment, health issues, etc  – so give a donation in their name.  They will love knowing that their favorite organization has received a generous donation, and they didn’t receive more stuff to find a place for in their homes.

9. Give the people you care about products that will help them live a greener, more sustainable life. Give a Green Home Makeover where a Green Irene Consultant (Me, in Northern Arizona) visits the person and goes through their home, making suggestions for ways they can decrease their carbon footprint. Another great gift idea for the conservation-minded is a pre-made gift bag filled with all sorts of products to help the recipient go green.

10. Fair Trade and Sustainability go hand in hand. Help struggling artisans around the world by purchasing beautiful gifts and jewelry for your friends and family – and maybe something for yourself! http://bit.ly/hZw9Cf Click the green button on the left that says “Online Catalog.”

For more great ideas for advice, products, and sales, visit: http://conta.cc/efFI7p

Of course, these tips are just the start! Use your creativity and keep the earth in mind this year. Feel free to send me your great ideas, too!


Jo Starr
Green Starr Makeovers
Twitter: @jostarr13
Email: GreenStarr@dishmail.net
Phone: (928) 607-1331


  1. 1
    Neko Says:

    Great ideas – here are mine!
    Ever wonder what to do with the “stuff” that is left-over when you finish an craft project. Stuff like yarn, felt, fabric scraps, snippets of scrap booking paper, or old buttons collecting dust in a tin, – those things just a bit too small to use. Well, here’s an idea! Why not donate them to a school. Teachers, like myself, are always looking for items to incorporate into their lessons. Varying the materials that are used to teach will provide a full sensory experience and make learning more hands-on and fun. I have often wondered what happens to all those beautiful ribbons and bows that are left after the baby show or wedding is over. What happens to all the beautiful tissue paper and wrapping paper our guest carefully selected for that special gift. Even the greeting cards that accompanied the gift can be recycled. These are all items that can be recycled, reused and even “up cycled” to create lasting art.I currently teach at a Fine Arts public elementary school where we believe that, if it is “safe” and not nailed down our students can turn it into art. Most of the students at my school live in low-income households and can not always afford to purchase school supplies. Hence, it is so important for our teachers, who often reach into their own pockets, to think creatively when taking on variousprojects.
    I try to recycle on a daily basis and teach my students about the importance and merits of recycling. Any items I have left-over from a completed projects are donated to my school. It’s my way of doing something for our environment – it reduces the cost for the teacher and the kids have fun.
    If you are interested in donating unused craft items, that can be used by primary teachers,
    please contact me at: Bagitup4me@gmail.comFinally, here is a quote I hope inspires you:
    “Landfills don’t need school supplies, books and computers – teachers do!.” You know your a teacher when you find yourself going through the neighborhoods garbage looking for items to recycle into art.

  2. 2

    Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I am not really a crafter so this is something I would have never thought about. Of course, anything that our schools can use, is a great thing! And kids these days need all the positive role models they can get, so thank you for being a teacher!

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