Green Christmas Tips from a San Juan Island Green Leader B&B

Decoration with an  firtree branch, globe and toys on a white backgroundBing Crosby may have dreamed of a White Christmas, but on San Juan Island, we prefer the REduce-REuse-REcycle mantra. Christmas is no exception. Here are a few tips to help you bring the 3-RE spirit to your home:

For the Tree:

  • Choose LED Lights
  • If live trees are wrapped with miniature lights, the lights should be removed each year so the trees’ growth is not inhibited
  • Add a dimmer at the end of miniature light strings to save electricity
  • Artificial trees often contain harmful chemicals, and they eventually end up in the landfill. Instead, buy a potted evergreen that you can plant in your yard next year
  • For the sake of those with allergies, you might wash the Christmas tree and other greenery before decorating to remove pollen or chemical residuals
  • For the same reason, wash or vacuum decorations to remove dust particles accumulated during storage
  • Decorate your tree(s) with dried orange or apple slices, cinnamon sticks, string of cranberries (or any berries) or popcorn, paper chains, pine cones, straw figures
  • Here’s a great site on Etsy with tutorials for making lots of Christmas decorations
  • Turn tomato cages upside down, tie ends together and decorate with tiny lights
  • Used Christmas cards can be turned into tiny boxes for decorations
  • Instead of a Cookie Swap, how about a Decorations Swap?
  • After Christmas, charcoal starter can be made by cutting up Christmas trees; store the pieces in boxes or bags and allow to dry; use later for start outdoor grilling fires; the boughs burn well and have a pleasant scent

For Gift Wrap:

  • Wrap gifts in newspaper funny pages and add bright bows, ribbon or string
  • Leftover wallpaper makes lovely wrapping
  • Turn brown paper bags inside out, cut and use to wrap boxes; paint designs on them, or decorate with used Christmas cards green-christmas-with-recycle-logo
  • Cut off the back page of used Christmas cards and use the  front page for gift tags or make a collage of cards as wrapping paper
  • How about colorful cereal boxes as wrapping?
  • Gift bags, gift wrap and tissue paper can often be reused; save them in a drawer or file box for next year
  • Chef Molly makes lovely origami boxes from expired ferry schedules and other colorful papers
  • Thrift shops often have remnants of fabric that make fun, unexpected wrappings for gifts
  • If you are shipping your gift, use wadded up paper as cushioning, or the cornstarch-based packing peanuts that dissolve in water. Our local UPS facility accepts foam packing peanuts to RE-use, and yours probably does too; don’t buy more of that stuff, RE-use what’s already made

For Gifts:

  • RE-gifting is quirky but fun; you never know what kind of crazy things you’re going to get!
  • Look for vintage and ultra cool items in thrift shops and consignments
  • Home-made gifts are even more appreciated these days since so few people have time to spare for making gifts
  • Give a Kiva loan in your gift recipient’s name. Note: Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. You pick the person you want to lend the money to, and the amount)
  • Wherever you are, buy local
  • Give gifts of membership or services: a gym membership, music lessons, theater tickets, spa services
  • Give the gift of love and undivided attention

Other Ideas:

  • Plant a tree as a gift or to replace what you used

Send us your “Green Christmas” ideas – we’d love to share them with our guests!