Top 9 Ways to Go Green this Holiday Season

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Green HolidaysDo piles of crumpled wrapping paper make you cringe? Do you pity the poor spruce that was sacrificed for the seasonal celebration? As a famous frog once said, "It's not easy being green."

During the holiday season, truer words were never spoken. With heightened eco-consciousness, it's hard not to be a scrooge as endless plastic bags and cardboard boxes fly through the doors of local stores. If you're struggling with holiday wastefulness, here are a few suggestions on how to go green without going overboard.

1. No Paper Trail

Sometimes gift giving is a risky endeavor.  There's always the possibility your judgment of sizing and style doesn't match with the recipient. Luckily, returns are an option as long as you keep the receipt. If you don't want the long paper printouts, ask about a digital receipt. Many locations of popular stores such as Gap, Nordstrom and Sears have this option available and will email your receipt instead.

2. Cut the Consumption

According to the experts at Carnegie Mellon University, shopping online consumes less energy than shopping in-store approximately 80 percent of the time. Even though the window for ordering gifts online is closing, there's one last opportunity. The fifth-annual Free Shipping Day is set for Monday, Dec. 17, when more than 1,400 merchants will offer free shipping, discounts and delivery by Christmas Eve.

3. The Plastic Alternative

With gift cards being the most requested holiday present again this year, a lot of PVC is going to wind up in landfills. However, Earthworks is doing its best to keep that from happening. Send them your empty plastic gift cards and they'll make sure they get recycled.

4. Receive and Give

Everyone knows it's better to give than receive, especially when you don't have to spend any money doing it. Since a recent CreditDonkey survey found 83 percent of respondents are okay with regifting, you might as well have at it. A regift means less wasted packaging, prevents a trip to the store and keeps more cash in your pocket.

5. Recirculate

If you're lacking in regiftable items, you can still put presents back in circulation shopping for hidden treasures at thrift stores. Not only does this method prevent unnecessary waste, your purchase often contributes to a worthy charitable cause. Just remember to use your best judgment; there's still plenty of junk out there.

6. Alternative Wrapping

Environmentalism aside, do you ever really feel good about paying for a roll of paper you know will wind up in the trash almost instantly? It's unlikely your present won't be accepted because it's not ornately wrapped, so look to other alternatives you can repurpose. Newspaper is always an easy option, and some even prefer the look of gifts wrapped with a brown paper bag.

7. Online Options

Everything important can be sent electronically these days, and Christmas cards are no exception. Save time and paper by creating custom cards at sites such as Punchbowl.com. You're free to upload personal photos and can include a message of your choice.

8. Shop Selectively

As a consumer, you have the power to choose where you want to spend your money. If environmental impact is a top concern, consider Newsweek's list of the Greenest Retail Companies in the U.S. You won't have to go out of your way to shop at some of the top-ranked stores. Best Buy, Kohl's and Target all crack the top ten.

9. Think Outside the Box

While the focus is mostly on waste from wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, other simple recycling is often overlooked. Depending on how your family celebrates, a holiday get together can result in a large surplus of empty bottles and cans. It's smart to bring an extra plastic recycling bin so there's no confusion as to where empties go. If you're really committed to the cause, Whole Foods offers a cork recycling program at many of their stores.

 

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. 

I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

Melissa
Melissa @ Mommy Living the Life of Riley!
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