10 Simple Ideas For Having a Greener, Healthier Christmas

1. Make your own Christmas gifts or buy second-hand.

It always amazes me how much people go out and buy during the holiday season. The holidays seem to have become a time when people let loose and go out and shop, shop, shop. This year why not make your own Christmas gifts or buy second-hand?

This year I did both. For my daughters gifts, I found a lot of books, some clothes, a couple of movies and dolls that are just like new, all bought second-hand at thrift stores. In total my shopping cost under $40.00! You can find nearly everything  on your list second-hand and buying second-hand contributes to so much less pollution. Take your list with you to a thrift store or second-hand store before you go out and buy new. There are always so many items that are just as good as new, from household items and furniture, to clothes, toys, movies and books.

For family gifts this year, I am going to be baking away (I bet you could have guessed that). Making anything for your family is also a great way to show them how much you love them. It isn’t the gift so much as the thought behind it. Taking the time to make your own gifts isn’t cheap, but really shows that you care.

If you don’t like the idea of buying second-hand or making your own gifts, you can still choose to look for more Eco-friendly gift ideas, shop at locally owned stores or buy from retailers who use a portion of their profits to support environmental causes. It just feel so much better.

2. Wrap your gifts in cloth or newspaper.

Instead of purchasing fancy wrapping paper that is just going straight into the landfill anyway, why not wrap your gifts in cloth bags or newspaper? After the gifts are opened, you can recycle the newspaper or reuse the cloth bags again year after year. This is a great alternative to Christmas wrap, cuts down on unnecessary waste and costs a whole lot less too. If you don’t like those ideas, a still be greener option would be choosing gift bags instead of gift wrapping paper and reuse those.

3. Make your own Christmas decorations.

This is something new that my daughters and I did together this year and was a lot of fun. Instead of spending a lot on buying new ornaments and decorations, why not make your own? There are lots of recyclable items that I have found can be put to use for many Christmas craft decorations. Check out my Craft page for some of our ideas, including Star Christmas Tree Ornaments. This is an especially good idea if you have kids! They will love getting creative with paint, glitter and paper. You will not only be making decorations, but memories that will last a lifetime. Also, having those decorations as a keepsake later on as a memory of  the time spent together is priceless.

4. Do your own holiday baking.

This is both a good idea for the environment, to cut back on packaging waste and is a whole lot healthier for yourself and your loved ones. Look up some healthier recipes for Christmas cookies, cakes and pies and make your own. I love doing all of my own baking because then I know what is going into the food that I am eating, which feels so much better.

If you have recipes that you enjoy already, make them healthier, by using whole wheat flour instead of white flour and substitute white sugar for cane sugar or brown sugar for sucanat, some healthier alternatives. Baking is an easy was to use vegan recipes because you won’t even notice that cookies contain no eggs or dairy. Substitute butter for margarine, canola oil or olive oil, use almond, soy or rice milk in place of cows milk and substitute an egg in your cookie or cake recipes with 1/4 cup applesauce or 1 tablespoon ground flax-seed mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Vegan baking tastes no different from regular baking and is a whole lot healthier for you and the planet. Check out some of my recipes or pick up a copy of The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holchek.

5. Send out your holiday greetings electronically.

A great way to cut back on more waste and consume less can be as simple as sending electronic holiday greetings instead of purchasing Christmas cards. Save the trees, cuts down on the pollution from transporting the mail all over the place and saves money too. Some great sites for free Christmas e cards include Care2 and 123 Greetings.

6. Purchase LED holiday lights.

LED lights are 90% more efficient tan traditional Christmas lights and last longer — up to 10,000 hours compared with 5,000 hours for incandescent bulbs. You can purchase LED lights at any hardware store. They may seem pricey, but you will end increasing your energy savings, so it is worth it.

One study showed that if everyone replaced their conventional holiday light strings with LEDs, at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month. That savings would be enough to power 200,000 homes for a year.

7. Plan your shopping trips /carpool.

Getting all your shopping done at once is a whole lot less stressful for you and the environment. Instead of making several trips to go out shopping, plan ahead and go out with your shopping plan in mind. If you know someone else that is also going out that you can catch a ride with, plan to go together and remember to bring your own bag with you!

Also, if you are going out to a holiday gathering and you know other friends and family members who are headed to the same destination, why not carpool?

8. Eat your veggies!

That should really be an everyday tip, but it is so easy to go crazy at Christmastime and overeat or eat foods that are not as healthy. When loading up your plate this Christmas, pile on the veggies and get in the green. When you are full on mostly veggies or salads and supplying your body with the nutrients that it needs, you will be less likely to go for that second piece or pie.

Remember that Christmastime is not an excuse to abandon your healthy values and do your best to affirm to yourself what you really want. No one likes to feel uncomfortably full and tired and the second piece is never as good as the first, no matter how much you think that it will be.

9. Remember what Christmas is really about.

A long time ago Christmastime was about more than shopping, overeating, drinking, decorating and getting a whole bunch of new things that you don’t really need. No matter what your religious beliefs may be, Christmas is no doubt a time for spending time with the people that you love and being truly grateful. Remember that real love is not about getting/giving the best gifts or preparing the best meal. Don’t go crazy trying to make everything perfect, there is no such thing! Be grateful this year for what you do have and take time to reflect on all the blessings the past year has brought you.

10. Give your presence, not your presents.

This idea should really be top of the list because it is the most important one. The best thing that you can do this Christmas is to be fully present with the ones that you are spending the holidays with. People will appreciate your presence more than your presents. Practice being in the moment and don’t let the holidays go by without really enjoying them and being with the ones you love. So many times we get so caught up in everything else and we spend so much time and energy worrying about Christmas and having everything just right. Why not instead spend that energy focusing on what really matters and being truly there for your family, body, mind and spirit?  Mindfulness is the best gift that you could give to others and yourself.

Happy, Healthy Holidays! 🙂

 

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