This time of year, it's easy to ignore concerns about the limits of our planet's resources and we often end up buying gifts in the last-minute frenzy to check names off lists.
But the staggering amount of trash thrown away during the holiday season—25 percent more than any other time of the year, by some estimates—is reason enough to not let those concerns fade.
And in these lean financial times, who wouldn't want to consider a low-cost, home-made gift?
We asked local crafty people for suggestions for homemade gifts, and got some pretty cool ideas.
Karen Lee blogs at EcoKarenLee.com and suggests making combination wrapping/ornament holders for all the teens on her list, which she fills with iTunes cards. They are made of reclaimed materials, and can be saved and used as an ornament the following year—or even better, to re-gift for someone else. Check her blog for more green Christmas craft ideas you can make from recycled materials.
Amy Drucker is making coffee cozys for her son's teachers. She'll wrap each one around an empty cup from NoKa Joe's and put a gift card inside. Local and handmade. Click to see her photo of a cozy and here for one of her Hanukah craft blog posts.
Mommy Blogger Dagmar Bleasdale of Somers has a series of crafty things she is making by hand this year with her son. Check out her suggestions and feedback on homemade crafts here.
Great use for that scratched, unplayable CD you didn't want to get rid of because it was your favorite: Janet Harckham says to take old CD's, drill holes in pairs around the edges to make an earring holder. Place it flat on top of any kind of stand, or old DD batteries, and secure to the stand. Click for instructions. She made it one Christmas and still uses it.
Click on the photos posted with this story for more ideas and project descriptions.
Other ideas we came across in our research:
Give a talent: Instead of buying a gift, lend your talents. Wrap a note saying you'll babysit, shovel snow, knit a scarf, cook dinner. We found these and other great ideas at EcoCycle.com.
Buy rechargeable batteries: Stock up on these instead of a package of new double AAs for new toys for your kids. This and other good ideas at UseLessStuff.com.
Don't buy disposable cameras: Use a digital camera and email photo memories to save paper. Other ideas from the EPA found here.
Happy Green Holidays!