Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Greener greetings

I don’t like to think about it, but the fact is the holidays are just around the corner. It seems like I just packed away the Christmas decorations a few months ago and now my husband’s recommending we bring them down from the attic to sort through everything and rid ourselves of what we no longer find useful. The concept itself has merit, but the thought of unwrapping ornaments and having “discussions” over what to keep and what to donate is a bit unnerving. His idea is to display the items we don’t want on a table in the spare room so our kids can peruse and choose; leftovers will make their way to Goodwill, after documenting each and every piece for tax time deductions. And so it begins…

Since we’re already talking about Christmas, perhaps now is the time to think about the most environmentally-friendly way to send greetings. After all, holiday mail is a huge contributor to the growing problem in the landfills. So how can we do our part in reducing the waste?

First of all, pull out your Christmas card list, sit down with your family and a red pen and start crossing out names. After all, do you really need to continue to send cards to people you wouldn’t even go out for a drink with or have over for coffee? Be realistic about who you really want to wish happy holidays to.

My next suggestion focuses only on the people on your list who are also in your email address book. eCards have come a long way since their inception. With music and animation, your holiday greetings come to life via sites like,, and so many more. Not only are eCards the greenest way to exchange Christmas cards, but they’re also the cheapest way, with many choices available for free or with a small subscription fee.

Sending cards to people you will see over the holidays is something else that can be avoided. Hand-delivered cards are just as, if not more, meaningful. Here’s where you can stray a bit from the traditional boxed cards. Why not cut a sprig of holly from your garden and tie a pretty tag on with a ribbon? Tags can be easily made from the Christmas cards you received in previous years (and didn’t have the heart to throw away). Write a verse on the back and sign as you would a normal greeting. Or pick up some vintage postcards at an antique store and use them. Neighbors will appreciate the thoughtful gesture of a “nature” greeting hanging from their doorknob or mailbox.

If you’re set on mailing your greetings, consider holiday postcards. With postcards you eliminate envelopes and pay less for postage.

Finally, on my list of greener greetings is something that could develop into a fun tradition for your family and friends. You’ve no doubt heard of re-gifting. Well, this is re-carding. Send your standard Christmas cards out this year, but don’t sign them! Use Post-it® notes, write your greeting and sign. Stick the note where your signature would normally go and add a suggestion for the recipient to resend the card next year. Of course, a new envelope would be needed, but if your house is like ours, there are plenty to spare. Just think how much fun it will be to receive the card again, from someone you didn’t even send it to, a few years from now!

I hope I’ve given you some incentive to start thinking about a green Christmas. I’ll be sharing some more ideas as the magical day draws nearer. In the meantime, enjoy autumn in all of its glory.

Keeping it green,


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