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An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

For many people Christmas means food, family and gifts.  Have you ever thought about giving a green gift?  Do you even know what a green gift is?  Here are some tips to make your white Christmas a little greener.

  • Think about the packaging.  Many companies have reduced the packaging that is on their products to reduce waste, but there is still some waste involved.  Choose a gift that would help to reduce the wasted packaging that will simply be thrown away and end up in a landfill.
  • Consider giving a gift that does not have any waste.  Giving tickets to a show or sporting event would be a waste-free gift option.  Memberships to a park, museum or a pass to golf courses also are no waste options that can be used throughout the year.  You could also make a donation in the name of the gift recipient.  Recent studies have shown that experiences are often more enjoyable and appreciated than things.
  • Wrapping paper is one of the biggest sources of waste during the holidays.  Consider some less wasteful options for wrapping gifts.  Try to use reusable gift bags.  If the gift is for a child try “wrapping” the gift in a backpack or purse.  If you really would like to wrap a gift in gift wrap, look for non-glossy wrapping paper, then you can compost the paper.  Brown paper is a great option. You can then decorate the paper in any way that you like.  You could also try to find recycled wrapping paper or use recyclable paper. When you are done with the paper Christmas morning you can recycle the paper rather than throwing it away.
  • If you have a Christmas tree each year and you do not like the thought of a fake tree, consider using a tree that can be planted in the spring.  Christmas trees make up a large portion of the holiday waste each year. This can be reduced by either using a fake tree or planting the tree that you use in the spring.  If you still like to cut a tree, try using the tree for other purposes.  Use the tree to make a wildlife habitat in your yard.  You could also use the needles to keep muddy paths from becoming a quagmire in your yard.  Then in the spring you can chip the bare tree and compost what remains.

Christmas means many different things to many different people; but regardless what Christmas means to you, everyone can help make Christmas a little greener.  If you have any questions, please contact Jason Haupt (


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