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Holiday Gifting Greenly, Cheaply

Celebrating Holidays in Green Eco Style

"Waste not, want not" holiday philosophy explained

When it comes to celebrating eco-friendly style holidays sustainably, the old adage "waste not, want not" is a great way to instill new eco-friendly lifestyle habits. So what do we mean by "waste not, want not"?

"If you're clever, thoughtful, and sustainable, you won't waste, and you'll have plenty. That's what 'waste not, want not' means to me," says ECOlunchbox Founder Sandra Ann Harris. "Basically, it's a less is more philosophy."

"Going green with healthy for people and the planet gifts and lifestyle choices for the holidays is a wonderful choice that will add to the fun and keep the cost down!" Harris explains. "With some eco-friendly thinking, it's easy to come up with ways to avoid wasting money and resources around the holidays."

A few sobering statistics about holiday waste are helpful when it comes to getting motivated to go green for the holidays.

  • More than 30 million living Fir trees are cut in the U.S. for Christmas each year. However, there's no eco-relief in choosing fake trees because these plastic trees often contain non-biodegradable PVC and possible metal toxins, such as lead. 
  • Regarding paper waste over the holidays, keep in mind that a whopping half of the paper consumed in the U.S. annually is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. Adding to the paper waste, enough Christmas cards are sold yearly (about 2.65 billion) in the United States to fill a ten-story-high football field. 
  • A survey has found that many consumers take on holiday debt between gifts, hosting parties, family emergencies, and for some, fewer work hours. Of those surveyed by Magnify Money, the average holiday debt incurred on credit cards was $1,003. And with interest charges, that amount can quickly snowball into much more. Not surprisingly, 44% of debt holders report they are stressed out about it.

"We can try to hang on to the status quo—living a Wal-Mart life so we can buy cheaply enough to keep the stream of stuff coming. Or we can say uncle," says author Bill McKibben, a contributing writer to Mother Jones and co-founder of

Leak-Proof Bentos - Shop Now

Leak-Proof Bentos - Shop Now

Green gift and holiday ideas that avoid a consumer mindset

  • Agree with family and friends to skip gifts – and spend time together doing something you both enjoy! A walk? A cup of tea? Live music?
  • Come up with a list of your personal favorites when it comes to tools for eco-friendly living. Inspire your friends to go green with you all year long by giving them practical reusable items, like a nifty steel or bamboo spork, glass or steel straws or a BottlesUp artisan glass water bottle.
  • Make your favorite holiday desserts, homemade bath salts, cacao protein ball treats or something else – and give it away packed in a reusable stainless steel container, like our leak-proof Bento Wet Box Large Rectangle.
  • Go to your local Christmas tree lot. Don't buy a tree. Instead, pick up for free extra branch trimmings or prune something from your backyard. Use indoors for decorations or in a vase.
  • Dust off a present you received but didn't need or want – and re-gift it!
  • Buy a potted tree to enjoy indoors during the holidays. Doesn't have to be a Christmas tree! When you tire of having it indoors, move it outside and enjoy it near your front door in a pot or planted in the yard.

Sandra Ann Harris lives in Lafayette, Calif. with her husband, two school-age children, three chickens and terrier Hobow. She is the founder of ECOlunchbox, which specializes in eco-friendly, no-plastic lunchware.

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