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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Green Challenge: Paperless Christmas

During the holiday season, Americans will generate an additional four million tons of waste than average just from wrapping paper and shopping bags. With lovely paper that comes in all colors and patterns and with a healthy dousing of sparkles, all those gifts under the tree can make a beautiful sight on Christmas morning. But after all the paper is ripped off and you’re struggling to stuff it all into a large trash bag, it begs the question; is it necessary?
Sacrificing wrapping paper at Christmas doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the beauty of Christmas morning. There are a few alternatives to typical wrapping that won’t leave you feeling as dirty as a climate denier after everything has been opened.

1. This one can be fun for the kids. As you go through the month of November and December, save up your used newspapers and paper scraps instead of recycling them. Before you sit down to do wrapping, give the kids markers, pencils, and crayons and turn them loose on the scraps. When they’re done, you’ll have wrapping paper personalized by the kids, and it will add a little extra something special on Christmas morning. Your “junk” paper will get one more use before it hits the recycling and no new paper will be bought.
2. Look into buying or making decorative cloth gift sacks. Instead of wrapping paper, stuff your gifts into the sacks and pull the drawstrings or zip them up, and then tuck them safely away under the tree. They can be reused again and again, and when you give them to someone else you’ll be spreading the eco-friendly love. 
3. In Japanese culture, there is a traditional cloth gift-wrapping method known as furoshiki. Not only does it avoid using wrapping paper, it’s actually just as pretty (in my opinion, at least)!
To learn how to wrap various different gift shapes, such as boxes, wine bottles, and spheres, click here
You don’t have to jeopardize the planet to have a happy and loving holiday season. I challenge you to reject wrapping paper and plastic bags this Christmas, and I’m challenging you more than a month early so you can start preparing! Have a talk with your family today about having a greener Christmas (one that will hopefully still be white with snow)!

Here are some additional tips for keeping your holiday shopping and gift-giving green.
·      Don’t leave your reusable shopping bags at home! Reject plastic bags!
·      Try to get all of your shopping done in one trip to keep your carbon emissions at a minimum.
·      Avoid buying candy; not only will it keep you and your loved ones healthier, but you can keep your money out of the palm oil industry, which is currently wreaking havoc on our world’s remaining rain forests. To learn more about the problems with palm oil, click here
·      When purchasing your holiday cards, keep your eye out for the Rainforest Alliance frog seal, cards made from 100% recycled paper, and/or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp.
·      Turn the heat down a couple notches Christmas morning; instead, bundle up and enjoy some hot cocoa and a hot breakfast as a family.
·      After everything’s been opened, save your gift boxes and gift bags for future birthdays and Christmases! Don’t throw them out!
·      As you and your family are trying to make room for all of your new gifts over the following days, donate some of your old possessions that you decide to get rid of in favor of your new items. Never throw away what you can donate or consign!
·      For the planet lovers in your family, consider making a donation in their name to a green organization they care about. Many organizations have green gift options available during the holidays. Here are a few examples:
    Center for Biological Diversity:
          Bat Conservation International:

    This is the first Green Challenge I’ve had in a while — if you couldn’t tell, I’ve been short on ideas. If you have an idea for a Green Challenge, email me at and I will happily put it up on my blog! You’ll get credit, of course. You could also consider becoming a Guest Writer!  
    Also, Viridorari wants to hear about your experiences with Green Challenges. If you’ve ever tried a Green Challenge, tell me how it went and maybe send some pictures. You could be mentioned on a Viridorari blog post!
    To receive updates about the blog, hear about the latest green news, and learn about action opportunities with petitions, follow me at @Viridorari on Twitter. Occasionally you’ll get some college-related tweets, but I try to keep those to a minimum.
    Happy holidays! 

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