Make it a Green Christmas!

You'll definitely make Santa's "Nice" list with these green holiday ideas.

This holiday season, make the planet merry too. Holiday traditions can take their toll on the Earth (think of all the wrapping paper, ribbons, Styrofoam peanuts, and even discarded trees making their way to the landfill). So go green this year, with these incredibly easy steps that will give everyone something to celebrate.

Wrap recycled

Instead of buying shiny, glossy, non-recyclable wrapping paper – which costs a fortune, anyway – be creative. Turn your brown grocery bags into festive and totally original gift wrap with some scissors, tape, and markers, crayons or watercolor paints. Who wouldn't rather get a gift wrapped with one-of-a-kind paper than some store-bought stuff that anyone could buy? Or try other common household items as gift wrap: newspapers, magazines, outdated road maps…or make a patchwork wrapper out of the holiday gift wrap you saved and put away last year. Make paper ribbons using the same materials – or tie your present with a pair of funky shoelaces that can be put to use afterward.

Donate to a good cause

Don't empty your whole wallet on merchandise. Think how great you'll feel if you share the love this year by making a donation to an organization that's helping to make the planet a little better. You can even make a donation in a friend's name instead of buying them a physical present; nothing gives warm-fuzzies like a letter saying a donation was made in your name. (I know: I recently got one from the local humane society after someone contributed in honor of my beloved dog that died this summer. I cried.) For a truly touching gesure, donate to a local organization in a friend or family member's neck of the woods. There are hundreds of local wildlife rescue groups, land trusts, conservation organizations, animal shelters, and other local nonprofits that need resources; ask friends or try a Google search.

Mulch your tree

Christmas trees can easily be turned into mulch, putting their valuable resources back into the natural system. Many cities now have tree recycling programs, and mulch made from Christmas trees is often given back to local communities (or sold for a small fee). Check with your local trash pickup or sanitation department. Or try a different tree option this year:consider “renting” a Christmas trees (the trees are replanted after the holidays as part of urban renewal efforts). Also, check out Ideal Bite’s guide to green holiday trees.

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