Greener Gifting

I came across some good tips for having an eco-friendly holiday in the December issue of Whole Living.

Some recommendations are to give gifts that aren’t a waste — like many stocking stuffers, buying items that use less packaging, and get TVs and video games systems that have the Energy Star label.

But more than the gift itself, the wrapping paper can be the real waste. Whole Living’s suggestions for alternative, greener wrapping include using newspaper, or re-using gift bags. This reminded me of ways my Mom and I would wrap presents when I was a kid. We would definitely re-use gift bags (and still do) but there were a few years my Mom got me to wrap our presents using paper grocery bags and paint.

Of course Mom was doing this more for crafting and saving money reasons, but I think it’s still a great idea for eco-friendly wrapping. All you need is newspaper or paper grocery bags and some finger paint or any kid-friendly paint (assuming your doing the activity with a child) in Christmas colors.

Once you have those items and the gift, you have the perfect ingredients for making a wrapping masterpiece. Simply cut the paper or bags so that it’s just enough for the present you’re wrapping. Before wrapping, use green and red — or whatever colors you like — to decorate the paper. As a kid, I would always do my hand print in green and red all over the paper.

Then, when the paint dries you’re free to wrap the gift and top it off with stickers or any other decorative bows you may already have. It’s not only greener and cheaper, but also a fun! And your gift receivers will surely appreciate their custom wrapping.

Burying your carbon footprint

An interesting story dropped in my lap this week. I saw an event was being held on MU’s campus about “green burial practices”. Bill Goddard, cemetery operator for Green Acres Cemetery spoke to local Sierra Club members about green burial, which requires that everything going in the ground must be biodegradable.

This immediately sparked my interest because a couple months ago I read a fascinating article in Whole Living magazine that explained the environmental impact of modern burial and cremation practices. It says more than five million gallons of embalming fluid is used each year in the U.S.—enough to fill 8 Olympic pools. Also, just one cremation uses the energy equivalent of driving 500 miles in a car.

Wow. I consider myself an environmentally conscious person, however, I’d never thought about all of the wasted resources and energy from burial and cremation. And I’m sure most people are as oblivious as I was because these traditions are so ingrained in our society. I mean seriously, who’s going to think, “Oh that is such a waste of resources!” when they’re watching a loved-one being buried in the ground??

That being said, I do think green burial makes sense. After-all, we’ll be dead anyway right? And as Goddard says, it’s the way things were done for thousands of years.

When I interviewed Goddard he said the main reason green burial is better is simply because you’re returning to nature. Considering climate change and our lack of resources, a return to nature doesn’t sound so bad.