Christmas creates more waste than any other holiday. Typically, household waste increases by more than 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags alone totals 4 million tons! Then there are the energy and transportation costs: lights on trees and homes, travel and transportation.

Santa Ornament
Credit: kevindooley via Flickr

The good news is that there are simple things we can do to create a more environmentally friendly Christmas. From eco friendly Christmas cards to the perfect eco friendly Christmas gift, all it takes is a little creative thinking. Below are some ideas to set you on the road to an environmentally friendly Christmas celebration.

Eco Friendly Christmas Decorations

Reuse, recycle, and get creative! Save all those decorations from last year, and reuse them. Reusing adds to the feeling of tradition. When decorations wear out, recycle them instead of tossing them into the trash, or use them to make new decorations. A quick online search can give you some great ideas for turning those broken ornaments into new decorations. Making your own handmade decorations can be fun for the whole family.

For lighting, invest in LED lights. They are great energy savers, and last longer than regular light bulbs. Candles are a nice holiday touch, adding ambiance to your environmentally friendly Christmas. Forget the real or plastic tree debate. For a truly environmentally friendly Christmas, forgo the tree completely. Decorate a potted plant, or make a creative space in a corner with lights and decorations, and if you are exchanging gifts, gather them creatively in this space.

The Perfect Eco Friendly Christmas Gift

Speaking of gifts, is there such a thing as a perfect eco friendly Christmas gift? Think green, and think beyond the gift itself. Gifts that require no packaging, such as certificates for spa services, make great eco friendly Christmas gifts. E-gifts are a great idea as well - music, movies, and books that can be downloaded from the web are good eco friendly gifts.

The best eco friendly Christmas gifts come from creative ideas, rather than things. Make a donation to a friend's favorite cause. Offer a living gift - an indoor plant, a tree planted in your loved one's name, or give the gift of seeds to start next year's garden. Maybe the perfect eco friendly Christmas gift is no gift at all. Do something nice for someone, giving your time instead of money.

Eco Friendly Christmas Cards

Cards are one of the least environmentally friendly Christmas traditions. So how can we create a more eco friendly Christmas card? If you must send one through the mail, use 100% recycled cards. A quick Google search for eco friendly Christmas cards turns up some great sources. Another option is to reuse last year's cards - save the front piece, and make your own eco friendly Christmas cards.

The Internet is a great way to stay connected. A real eco friendly Christmas card can be sent as an e-card. For even more impact, choose an e-card service that supports the environment, such as The Rainforest Site, or Does your family like to send out those "what we've been up to this year" Christmas letters? Create it online, and email the link to friends and family.

An Environmentally Friendly Christmas is a Happier Christmas!

This year, instead of focusing on "stuff" try just spending more time with family and and community. Spending time with loved ones uses fewer environmental resources, so not only will you enjoy each other more, but you may just have a happier and more environmentally friendly Christmas!