First Day – Make a recycled card. Store bought cards are beautiful but can be expensive. It’s fun to look for holiday pictures in magazines, newspapers, calendars, old greeting cards and posters. Add fresh twigs, bark or bits of pine cones to make a special card. Remember to save the greeting cards you receive this year to recycle next year. The amount of cards sold in the U.S. during holiday season would fill a football filed 10 stories high.*
Second Day - - Buy a fresh green tree. Artificial trees are reusable, but according to EarthEasy.com, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Plastic trees are made of petroleum products and research shows that they are typically discarded after repeated use, filling up landfills. The benefit of live trees:
- 95% of the trees are grown on tree farms
- They contribute to air quality while growing
- They are often locally grown – saving transportation costs and added air pollution
- Live trees smell good!
- Many communities have mulching service where you can bring your tree and help your local environment.
Third Day – Buy tree with a root ball. If you really don’t feel comfortable cutting down trees, buy a live tree. Depending on the size, you can repot it after the holidays or plant in your yard. Your local nursery will help you determine how and when to replant the tree.
Fourth Day – Use LED lights. LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights use up to 95% less energy than traditional holiday bulbs. LED Holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs.* Buy or replace some of your old lights with LED lights. And don’t forget to turn them off when you go to bed!
Fifth Day – Fresh nuts and pine cones. Use pine cones, acorns, nuts, leaves, straw, cinnamon sticks, popcorn, paper chains made of recycled paper and old wrapping paper, along with natural twine to make holiday ornaments. Or, make holiday cookies with a hole to hang from your tree.
Sixth Day – Use eco-friendly bags to carry your gifts. Instead of using plastic bags, bring your own bags. And better yet, you can give them as gifts. Buy inexpensive canvas bags at the craft store and decorate it especially for your recipient.
Seventh Day – Homemade wrapping paper. You can wrap gifts in comics, newspaper, and old road maps. You can make wrapping paper from used brown grocery bags. Use ink and stamps or crayons, or cutouts from magazines to decorate the brown paper. Before the paper and plastic bags became readily available, items, including food were wrapped in material or with string. Use dish towels or cloth napkins to wrap gifts (that’s a gift in itself!) Use natural twine with a pine cone to tie your presents. Remember to save wrapping paper you receive this holiday for next year.
Eighth Day – Don’t buy toys with batteries. According to the EPA 40% of battery sales occur during the holidays.* Batteries are expensive and a toy with dead batteries can be useless and frustrating. Some batteries are hard to change especially in “educational” toys made for toddlers with sounds and lights or “talking” dolls or stuffed animals. Discarded batteries also hurt our environment. Think about games that nurture kids' creativity and board games that can provide quality family time.
Ninth Day – Turn down your heat. According to the Sierra Club, lowering the temperature in your house 5 degrees can save 10% off your energy bill.
Tenth Day – Donate your old cell phone. (And everything else you don’t use for that matter!) You can drop off your old cell phone at any Staples store through the Sierra Club’s cell phone recycling program. The Sierra Club estimates that 130 million cell phones are thrown out each year. Check out Kids Care Clubs Calling All Cell Phones for more information on where to donate your cell phone.
Eleventh Day – For the Birds. Kids love making suet and peanut butter pine cones and everyone will enjoy watching the birds peck at them during the cold snowy months. They make great gifts for grandparents and seniors. Take a pine cone, tie a sturdy string or wire around the base. Spread peanut butter or suet and roll in bird seed. See BirdNature.com for directions on making suet feeders for birds. Hang them on a tree visible from your house.
Twelfth Day – Recycle your tree by mulching. Each year 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. Of those, up to 30 million end up in landfills. Click on Earth.911.com for more information on recycling trees and a recycling center near you. Type in your zip code and the site will provide the closest recycling center.