5 Ways to Have a More Eco-Friendly Holiday

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don’t Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month’s topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants’ posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

This post contains some affiliate links.

With the holidays approaching, it is so easy to get swept up into the excitement of it all that we can often temporarily leave our green and natural ways behind. On the flip side, if you haven’t taken many green steps as a family yet, this is actually a wonderful time to implement some eco-friendly traditions.

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Here are 5 ways to have a more eco-friendly holiday season this year:

1. Avoid buying plastic toys whenever possible.
There are so many beautiful wooden toys available from companies like Plan Toys
or from work at home parents on Etsy. If you do want to buy plastic toys, see if there are things that you like from one of the companies that make products from recycled plastic like Green Toys.

2. Make your own gift wrap.
I love this DIY Wrapping Paper Tutorial from Shannon of Growing Slower.

3. Buy “experience” gifts for loved ones rather than more products that will ultimately end up in a landfill.
Museum memberships are always wonderful gifts, and memberships to conservation organizations like The Trustees of Reservations often include fun perks like free admission to beaches.

4. Volunteer as a family
Whether you adopt a family, collect gifts for the pets at a local animal shelter, or make Thanksgiving dinner for a family in need, volunteering as a family can only bring good things to your holiday season. Helping others – no matter how small the effort – only helps our world to become a better place.

5. Decorate with elements of nature
Instead of purchasing paper and plastic decorations, use acorns, pine cones, pine tree boughs, or leaves. Pinterest is filled with creative ways to use these things, and this is always such a blast for kids.

What are your suggestions for having a more eco-friendly holiday season?

Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month’s carnival. 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rebecca Peters November 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I love the suggestion to use nature for decorating your tree- tree decorations have gone sky high!! Its so much more exspensive than it used to be, and tho I save each decoration for the next year, Im a new family so I dont have but a box saved up so far- even saved my popcorn garland that took hours to make. I didnt even like the box of ornaments I got, I just got it because it was the cheapest. I will be using nature this year! I love the other suggestions as well, this is just the one that piqued my interest!


2 Lucy November 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Ooh yes, we love using natural and made decorations too – in fact, a big bare branch can make an excellent Christmas tree, especially painted white or silver! I do like the idea of experience gifts… I am often at a loss as to what to get family members, so definitely keeping this in mind, thanks!


3 Krystyna Bowman November 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Excellent tips! I love the idea of buying wooden toys – we are purchasing ours from Manzanita on Etsy this year – can’t wait to have a house with less plastic this season!! We also give food instead of trinkets to family. Who needs more things to dust? With food, we prepare it with love and can make enough to enjoy and to share :)


4 Krystyna Bowman November 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I love the idea of giving wooden toys – we are purchasing ours from “Manzanita” on Etsy this year. We also give food – we can prepare it with love, there is no trinket to “dust” after the holidays, and we can make enough to enjoy and to share :)


5 Mary D November 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I would add to try to shop local when possible. This cuts out the extra packaging from shipping and the gas burned to deliver the goods to you.


6 Renae Launderlife November 5, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I love ALL of these tips (which I don’t say often)! Esp number 1 and 3. What a great idea to only buy wooden toys or experiences. I think I may have to implement this idea! Thank you!
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7 sustainablemum November 6, 2013 at 2:18 am

What lovely ideas! Greenery always used to bought into houses over the Winter, long before Christmas was celebrated, it would have been taken out at the end of January for Imbolc to cleanse the house ready for the emergence of spring. Nowadays our houses are too warm for it to last that long!
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8 Barb @ A Life in Balance November 7, 2013 at 5:50 am

I’m going to be incorporating more natural elements into our holiday decorations this year. I still remember the year I found tons of cedar branches in the trash and made a garland for the back porch out of them along with strings of lights. Such a beautiful sight!
Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted..painted glass ornamentsMy Profile


9 Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry November 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm

What lovely ideas Charise! I love the idea of gifts of experience rather than physical gifts! :)
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10 Katy November 12, 2013 at 1:03 am

Great ideas! Giving people experiences, rather than items, is something I’ve really been trying to focus on lately. We are so affluent, even in the middle-class in the USA, that we really don’t need any “things”. I often find myself struggling to find things to give people, because most of our family and friends just buy things if they want or need them. So, I’ve started giving experiences, or giving to charities that are meaningful to the “receiver” (for example, Bibles to the military on behalf of my FIL, who was a career military man).
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11 Charlie November 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

OK – while the principal is good, I really think the “no plastic” is such a ignorant statement. I have a fairly successful toy store where we sell the wonderful wooden toys — and I sell plastic too. First, not all wood toys are created equal. Melissa and Doug, Plan, Hape (some Haba)- to name a few- are made in China. Yes, the wood is often rubberwood and harvested in a “eco friendly” manner and the finishes are non-toxic, the folks who work for these organizations are not paid fairly or provided adequate working conditions. It’s like we sort of forget who makes the toys. I cannot say with certainty the working conditions are terrible but it’s not hard to think through what’s going on. There are great german toy companies like Grimms Spielz and Holz who sell gorgeous toys and all of it’s eco friendly and made ethically in Germany. They are spendy but truly gorgeous and multi-purpose. In the USA there’s Maple Landmark where 100% of everything is grown and made in VT. I think the no plastic thing is silly when you consider the wonderful companies who make things in the US and the plastic is recycled and BPA free — Green Toys is a great example.

While I encourage every family to make decisions on what is best for your household, there is a lot of ignorance and false advertising when it comes to the toy industry manufacturing and sourcing of materials. I just ask that you reconsider and think through the “no plastic” rule as there is so much more to the story. Just because it’s made of “wood” does not make it better.


12 Charise Rohm Nulsen November 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

These are all great points, Charlie. That’s why I said to avoid buying plastic “when possible” and talked about companies that offer toys made from recycled plastic like Green Toys. :-)


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