Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Waste...not

"Waste not, want not." Like many wise old sayings, it may be true but it's often easier said than done. Especially during the holiday season.

It seems like waste during the holidays is everywhere: Wasted gifts that nobody wants, plastic toys that break easily, wasted paper, wasted packaging, wasted food, wasted time trying to find that "perfect" seems to go on and on.

An old friend recently asked me if I had any suggestions on how to go about cutting down the waste that is created during the holidays. Here are some ideas:

  • Present gifts in useful things instead of wrapping, like a mug to contain a gift.

  • Give handmade gifts. Baking stuff, funky crafty stuff, use your imagination!

  • Give the kids a gift to a performance at a local Children's Theater, or something similar for them to look forward to.

  • Take your spouse to an event he/she may want to attend. If you hate baseball, take him to a game and promise not to complain or roll your eyes for a whole evening (you know you can do it!)
  • Dare to "re-gift": Raid your old record collection to give *primo* selections to friends. The best re-gifts are ones given with thought put into it, as opposed to junk you don't want anymore!

    Making somebody laugh with the goofy stuff you come up with is always fun! Trust me, everybody last year loved their 45s. I hope. If not, don't mention it. The co-worker who fought with her mom as a teenager about George Michael's "I Want your Sex" finally got her copy of the vinyl single from me. Thankfully, I have 2 copies.

  • Buy new and used books and movies. Try Ebay or a local used book store.
  • Wrap your gifts in the funny papers.
  • Recruit your neighbors to get a "block" discount for recycling service. Maybe a new year's resolution for the block?
  • If you're really into it, rent the documentary "What Would Jesus Buy" to help redirect one's holiday spirit! The Rev. Billy is also at It's earnest comedy & theater with a message.

  • If you're the type who needs to be "scared straight", rent "Maxed Out". You'll probably want to pay cash & subsequently reduce your gift giving.
What ideas do you have for reducing holiday waste?


Josh, Molly, Lucy and Jasper Gravholt said...

Last year one side of the family drew names- that always helps.

The other side of the family specified the charity of choice- then everyone just donated to that charity. Kids were excluded for the most part, apart from the stipulation to family of "no big plastic play crap".

We picked Kiva loans ( and talked to Lucy about it- in addition to Heifer ( which is really cool for Christmas, since you can tie a gift to something "solid" like a flock of chickens... it seems more "gifty".

Lori said...

What a great list! Thanks!

I answered your question about cocoa on my blog. ;)

Happy Holidays!

Martha said...


We're paying cash this year. Luckily, we aren't a very 'gifty' family. It's all about the kids.

I love your suggestions, though. Especially the one for the children's theater!! That one is for sure going to happen next year.

I'm making clipboards for all the girls in the family. Sshh....don't tell.