Along with the joy and celebration of the holidays, many clients of this NYC Professional Organizer get overwhelmed as there’s too much to buy, too much to wrap, too many cards to send, too many gifts to make space for – just too much! The abundance of the season can also be hard on our planet. This week I’m sharing tips and organizing solutions to help make your holidays a little more eco-friendly – and even help reduce clutter and stress!
Here are some organizing solutions that will result in an assortment of Green Gifts:
If you’re a crafty type and have the time, use your talents to create special gifts for family and friends. Handmade ornaments, original artwork, hand-knit clothing and other items created through your investment of time, love and creativity are cherished by their recipients. If your skills are culinary, homemade breads, cakes, cookies, preserves are perfect to share with hostesses, neighbors, teachers, and co-workers.
When buying gifts, look for locally-made items. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs and environmental impact of being transported halfway around the world. Consider gifts made from recycled sources – there are a number of great products made from recycled or re-used products, reducing the waste stream and promoting the concept of making use of available materials. Check out eartheasy.com and terracycle.net for ideas.
Consider non-tangible gifts, which have little-to-no environmental impact, don’t need to be wrapped and don’t create clutter. For families, sign up for a membership with a local museum, zoo, family gym or classes – the gift of time together can be enjoyed all year. Other “experience” gifts include:
- Special event – concert, musical, dinner or sporting event
- Lessons/classes – golf, tennis, art
- Babysitting coupons
- Music and movie downloads
- Housekeeping service (a great gift for new parents!)
- NYC Professional organizer gift certificates (a great gift for everyone!)
Another organizing solution which also helps reduce clutter which is also a favorite of this NYC Professional Organizer is to do something good for the environment in a friend or family member’s name. Symbolically adopt an animal, plant a tree or make a donation to their favorite organization.
A dual purpose organizing solution is to have your children choose toys and games they no longer play with and donate them to a homeless shelter or other charitable organization. This also reduces clutter and helps make room for new items sure to arrive this December, so you benefit too!
Wrapping it Up
There may be nothing more wasteful about the holidays than the paper and ribbon used for wrapping gifts. Many of us invest time and money to present beautifully-wrapped gifts – only to have it all thrown away within a matter of minutes. If you’re giving gifts that need to be wrapped, here are a few suggestions:
- Save and re-use wrapping paper, ribbon and bows – no one will know (really!).
- Rather than buying holiday-specific wrapping paper (Birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day), use a single color that can be dressed up for any occasion. You can also purchase plain white or brown butcher paper and decorate with stamps, artwork and ribbons.
- Other alternatives to wrapping include fabric (if you sew, you may have some great extra pieces!), old maps and calendars. Run newspaper, magazines and catalogs through a shredder for packing material in boxes and gift bags.
- Make Re-usable boxes: Collect sturdy boxes with lids. Cover the boxes with gift wrap or fabric. Glue wired ribbon and bows on the lids so that when the box is opened, the bow and fabric is stays attached to the box lid.
Before opening gifts, set up a recycling station for plastics, paper, boxes, Styrofoam, etc. Recycle items as you normally do.
Holiday cards are especially unfriendly to the environment. Paper used for cards and envelopes, along with resources for transportation makes this long-standing tradition decidedly un-green.
If you’re computer savvy and really ready to let this one go, send electronic cards. You can personalize them, add photos and there are no envelopes to lick!
Consider a postcard this year. They not only use less paper but postage is about half that of mailing a traditional card. You can even make your own with recycled card stock, photos, fun graphics or stamped art.
Still committed to traditional cards? Look for those that are made from recycled materials and trim your list to those with whom you really want to connect this holiday season.
Regardless of your particular holiday this December, with a little effort and a few changes, you can make its color GREEN!