Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy (and sustainable) holidays!

These pictures are from an annual Holiday Swap that I host with some friends. The swap is one of the ways that I try to keep the holidays from taking over my budget and my life. We invite artists, crafters, healing artists, goddesses of the domestic arts, and anyone else who's interested, and everyone brings something to trade (even if that something is money).

This year I brought those little cork people (which are used corks with knitted sweaters and hats, from the Korknisse pattern in Ravelry), along with printed cards of some of my photography, knitted scarves, handmade calendula skin balm (from calendula from my own little garden), handmade soap, canned salsa. You can also see some of T.'s beautiful drawings in the pictures, and some of the scarves are also hers.

We came home with some beautiful pottery, paintings, jams, a CD in a handmade case, and a little money! In the past we have traded for ayurvedic consultations, acupuncture, and jewelry.

If you decide to do a swap, I recommend finding your friend with the biggest home, inviting 20-40 people, and letting them know well in advance so they can plan ahead. This year we held it rather early due to scheduling constraints, and I actually like that! It was a fun way to start thinking about the holidays.

Coincidentally, I volunteered to write a "Green Tip of the Week" for the employee e-newsletter at work, so I focused it on "greening" the's what I wrote:

Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday season than any other time of year? This extra garbage amounts to 25 million tons of trash, or about one million extra tons of garbage per week. (Bob Lilienfeld/The Use Less Stuff Report)

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many of us will be planning soon for holiday food, decorations, and gifts. There are ways to reduce our impact at this time of the year. Here are some thoughts for a sustainable holiday season.

1—November is harvest season in our area. All kinds of food is available from local farmers right now, such as squash, onions, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, kale, apples, pumpkins, and much more! Check out MCC’s own Agriculture and Life Sciences Institute “Buy Local” page ( for more information.

2—If your holiday traditions include gift-giving, discuss with your family some alternative gift ideas. Gifts of time or services, such as baby-sitting, cleaning, or dog-walking, are often appreciated as much as material objects. You could also consider giving a charitable donation on behalf of one of your gift recipients. Another option is to give consumable goods, such as home-baked cookies, specialty jams, or Finger Lakes wine, which have less impact on the environment and bring pleasure to the senses!

If you do give material objects, consider any of the following options for gift-wrapping: buying recycled gift-wrap, re-using gift wrap from previous years, or wrapping in a re-usable scarf or cloth bag. (Here’s a link to a web site on stylish fabric gift-wrap, based on a Japanese fabric-folding technique:

3—Consider natural decorations and homemade ornaments to decorate your home. The internet is full of craft sites with ideas, such as and Several local business and organizations offer workshops and/or products to help you out, such as Hurd Orchards (, and the Rochester Civic Garden Center (

For more tips, check out the Simplify Your Holidays free brochure at

Feel free to share your tips and good websites for sustainable holidays in the comments!

1 comment:

Meg said...

Love those Korknisse - they are on my list of things to do, but I discovered them just recently and have to wait until I have some corks saved up!


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