Green Tip$ for the Holidays


Written By Staff Planner, Virginia Dhondt


For many, the holiday season is a time of consumption and overspending, typically followed by a period of resolutions and restraint.  The idea of saving money during the holidays usually conjures images of sale banners and clearance signs.  However, many “green” ideas can help with holiday savings.

In today’s “green” culture, the three R’s commonly refer to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  Three more can be added to the list: Repair, Repurpose, and Re-gift.  During the holiday season, these are opportunities for saving some green.

Reduce: Determine the amount of giving you want to do for the season.  Make a list of those people before you start shopping.  Think about what they really want–many would prefer a visit with you instead of a gift from the mall.  Some people have causes they are passionate about; they may prefer a gift to their favorite charity rather than a physical item.  You may get a tax deduction for your gift in addition to the satisfaction of helping your loved one.

Reuse: Think about reusable containers for gift giving and save gift bags to use for giving another gift.  Fabric wine bags are becoming popular as they can be reused many times among friends.  (Remember to check for and remove “To” labels.)

Recycle: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that peer pressure, or the normalization of a process, is more likely to influence people’s behavior than education or even incentives.  To encourage more recycling, try providing a convenient way to recycle bottles and holiday wrapping, while making the trash can less obvious.  Make recycling the norm at your holiday party and in your life, and others will follow.

Repair: As you pack your holiday decorations, inspect everything, replacing burnt out bulbs and repairing items when possible.  This makes the next holiday season easier to decorate, but may also prompt you to purchase replacement items while they are on sale.  As LED lights become more inexpensive, decide if you want to replace some of your holiday lighting with the more energy efficient LED lighting as part of your established annual budget.

Repurpose: A jar, vase, or mug can be used to contain a small gift.  Leftover wrapping paper can be used to wrap storage boxes or files as a color coding system.  Smaller pieces can be used for cards, gift labels, or to wrap a tin can for storing pens, tools, or other supplies.  Shred wrapping paper to use for packing material–this can make an effective base for a gift basket.

Re-gift: If you receive gifts that you won’t use, be gracious and thank the giver.  However, once a gift is received, it is yours to do with as you want.  Note with a small label the giver’s name so that you don’t forget; when you find the appropriate person for the gift, re-gift the item.  Some people are uncomfortable with re-gifting but are more comfortable telling a friend, “I thought you would like this item I received as a gift, but won’t use.”  If the item is something you feel is not appropriate for anyone you know, donate to charity rather than collect those items.

The holidays can be hectic, and yet wonderful.  Be creative, have fun, and color the holidays green!

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