How to have a Eco Friendly or Green Christmas – Recycling Gift Wrap, Holiday Cards, LED Lights, and Trees

small Christmas tree, metal

Having an Eco Friendly Green Christmas is more and more desirable these days. Beside losing all the gained weight, we can do the following to have a more green and healthy holiday.

How can you Green your Christmas?

  • Reduce the number of trips you need to make or take public transportation
  • Buy your fruits and vegetables from a local farmers market or from local sources.
  • Buy organic when possible, except for product on the Clean 15 list
  • Utilize reusable bags to hold groceries
  • Don’t over cook or serve too much food
  • Eat on real dishes and use cloth napkins
  • Rent or buy your decorations from used clothing stores like Goodwill. Reusing items that you already have is even better.
  • Donate extra food, money, clothing to those in need
  • Compost the leftovers, fruits, vegetables, etc.
  • Give out green oriented treats like organic fruit, re-purposed trinkets

With a little preparation we all can make a difference, even on Christmas.

Green Eco Friendly Gift Wrap

Christmas Presents

Time to wrap up those gifts. Here are some ideas for eco friendly or green gift ideas gift wrap that will not end up in a land fill:

1) Use materials that can be reused, dish cloths, reusable shopping bags, etc

2) Do not use ribbons or bows that are not recyclable.

3) Use recycled wrapping paper

4) Use a recyclable but festive gift bag

5) Skip wrapping paper

Eco Friendly Gifts, Green Gifts

The holiday season is off to its official start.  I started to think about eco friendly green holiday gifts and did a Google search and found an endless array of green, sustainable, and environmentally friendly items. Amazon has a big selection of Green Gifts or eco-friendly gifts.

EPA states that household waste rises 25% during the holidays.  Recycle gift wrap and give items not filled with packaging, especially toys. Amazon has a section of items with better packaging.

Re UseRe Gift!

Regifting has a major stigma attached to it. The process of using resources to make a green gift is not eco friendly in the first place, so a far better gift is either making one from material you already have or making a donation in someone’s name. Charity Navigator is a good place to start when looking for charities. Just keep track of where you got the present, so you do not regift back to your recipient.

Earth Loving Packing Material

Earth Loving Packing Material from Macy's

Macy’s is now using Earth loving packing material in their shipments. The material is made from pure corn and potato starch and breaks down in water within 9 minutes. You can also compost it. If put in the trash, it will dissolve in the land fill.

The postcard is FSC certified but uses only 30% recycled content.

Remember, Re-gifting is a very eco friendly gift!

Recycle Gift Wrap and Packaging

The holidays are here, time to clean up the mess. Gift wrapping paper, holiday cards and boxes that are 100 percent paper can be recycled. Foil, plastic coating and glitter cannot be put into recycle bins. Plastic bottles, jars, tubs and buckets are the only plastics that you can recycle at home. Check with your local recycling firm for details.

Packing peanuts and bubble wrap can be recycled at your local UPS store or shipping store.

Holiday lights no longer work or are no longer needed, can be recycled at some outlets.  This website takes them too.

Eco Friendly, Green Holiday Lighting – Energy-Efficient LED Holiday Lights

Christmas lights, Christmas tree

Tis the season for beautiful but costly light show displays, but new technology is coming to the rescue.

GE see nine Christmas LED lights, energy-efficient Christmas lighting, LED lights

LED Holiday Lighting

LED or Light emitting diodes are more than 90% energy efficient, far better than traditional incandescent lights. They also can last up to 25,000 hours compared to 3,000.  A string of 300 traditional C-9 lights costs about $90 for a holiday season (60 days/6hrs a day, $0.12 per Kwh), compared to $0.84 for LEDs! Some LED light strings also remain lit even if one bulb in the string burns out, is loose, or is missing. Many LED holiday lights had a bluish tint to their light, but newer versions are available in warmer colors.

Our local utility PG&E even offers instant rebate programs to switch to LED lighting.

Typical cost: Amazon has a 7 ft string of 30 holiday lights for $8. LED lights costs about twice as much as incandescent holiday lights. Prices are falling every year.  Because these last so long, try spending a little more for more durable lights. Some local hardware stores have instituted trade-up events to help consumers upgrade to LED holiday lights.

If you have old energy hogging lights, it is time to recycle them for LED ones. The payback is very fast.

How to Hang Your Lights Safely

  • If you are setting up outdoor holiday lights, be sure to plug them into an outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter to ensure the circuit will shut down if there’s an electrical problem. Have an electrician install the outlet permanently or buy a portable one from your local home improvement store.
  • Follow instructions when connecting lights, keep connections water-free and away from snow.
  • Before actually installing the lights, make sure you test the lights to ensure that they are working. Do not install lights in trees that are near power lines.
  • Always use a sturdy ladder and have someone help steady the ladder.
  • Use insulated holders to latch lights, do not use thumbtacks or nails.
  • Turn lights off when you leave your home or go to bed. Use a clock timer to automatically power on and off your lights.

Be sure to read: Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Energy Bill

Eco Friendly, Green Christmas Tree

Fake Christmas tree or Real Christmas tree?

The debate continues on what is the more eco friendly and green Christmas tree. The average live Christmas tree costs about $45, while an artificial tree costs about $80. In 2010, only 23% of US households bought a live Christmas tree, down from 40% in 1991. 2011 projected revenue from live or artificial trees should be roughly equal.

Fresh Christmas tree

A fresh tree consumes a lot of resources and possibly pesticides to grow to a desirable size. It then gets tossed out after the holidays. Think of all the water, pesticides, human labor, and fertilizer that went into growing it. Douglas Fir takes 5 to 6 years to reach maturity. Average Christmas trees take 8 years to grow. Up to 15 years of growing time for just a couple weeks of festivity!  Yes it can be chopped up, composted, recycled, and they help with carbon sequestration.  You could look also for ‘organic’ style growers. In today’s tight economic climate, consumers are buying cheaper Christmas trees, many four-feet tall or shorter.

Rent a Christmas Tree

A recent trend has been to rent a potted Christmas tree for the holidays and then return it to the company afterwards.

Recycling Christmas Trees

In San Francisco they recycle Christmas trees through a wood chipper machines. The chips are transported to Tracy for use as biomass fuel, which generates electricity by heating water to make steam.

Left over Christmas trees have been used to create habitats for baby fish in the East Bay Regional Park District for the last 20 years. The trees are dumped near the edge of a lake and allow small fish to hide from predators. Algae grows from the trees, bugs live in the algae, and fish eat these bugs, with the end result being birds eating the fish. If you’re local district does not have a Christmas tree recycling program, be sure to tell them to look into one.

Artificial Christmas tree

An artificial tree can last many years, but is made with lots of material that is not green nor eco friendly. PVC or plastics could even be hazardous. It is not biodegradable nor recyclable.  Most are imported from China, consuming tons of fuel to arrive here. Over the years, quality has improved and with the shifts in demographics, more people are choosing to buy artificial Christmas trees.

An even more eco friendly green alternatives include buying or decorating a plant and then planting in your yard after the holiday. Make a cloth or paper Tree out of materials you already have.

Be sure to use a Tree Timer to prevent it from lighting up during day time hours or in in the middle of the night.

With all the tips above, we can definitely green our holiday and save some money at the same time.

Got any tips? Let us know below!

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  1. If you prefer pretty papers for presents, purchase green gift wrap that is recycled AND recyclable. We at Ecosaurus are creators of 100% recycled, 50% post-consumer waste wrapping paper that is printed with vegetable-based inks and is recyclable (and fit for your regular recycle bin, as the paper is bleach-free and petroleum-free).

  2. Pingback: Recycle Everything - Recycling Tips | Easy Eco Blog

  3. Thanks for this. I too keep trying to have a “greener” holiday but the giftwrap issue is a problem. I have companies that send me paper so even if I don’t bring it into the house I still have it-and I’ve asked to be removed from the lists so many times that I think I’m wasting more time than it’s worth at this point. At least it is paper so I can recycle it–I’m so glad to know that!