Monday, November 17, 2014

A Green Christmas, Part 1: Family Crafts

**This is going to be a four-part series on creating less waste during the holidays.

According to the the EPA, Americans generate 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That equals about a million extra tons of trash each year. (If there was an emoticon with eyeballs popping out if its head, I'd use it right now.) All that trash is going to be broken down into a toxic sludge that will eventually contaminate our fresh water and air. In addition to the ridiculous amount of trash that is produced, there are also three hundred thousand trees cut down to make the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S.  For every pound of virgin paper made from tree pulp, another one pound of carbon dioxide is emitted. (E-cards allow you to send a photo and save some trees!)

I'm no Grinch (listening to Christmas music right now, actually, and don't care a fig that it's only November) and I love decorating for the holidays. For my new home, however, I wanted to decorate it being as green as possible. The next month will highlight my green Christmas journey.

Devin and Kaleb busy cutting their pinwheels.

This past weekend we had a family craft night which I hope will become a new tradition. We made three pinwheel wreaths from old moving boxes and the comics, paper snowflakes from old school papers and glass snow jars. The snow jars were made with sugar and thrift store mini Christmas trees that I found at Goodwill for $3. Tack on another $3 for the Sunday newspaper and the night cost a total of $6. Better yet, everything we made can either be reused or recycled after we are through with it.

Pinwheel Comic Wreath

Start by cutting a full comic page in half, like in the photo above.

Fold in half twice, each time cutting along the folded seam. When you are done you should have four separate small squares of comic paper. Repeat with the remaining full comic sheets.

Taking a small square, make a cut at each corner to the middle of the square, being careful not to cut all the way through. Once all four corners have been cut, you should have four triangles still attached in the middle. This is a great job for the kiddos to do.

Using a hot glue-gun on the low-setting, take a corner from each triangle and glue to the center of the square. (I glued while the kids cut.)

Once one pinwheel was assembled I used it to help gauge how many would need to be made all together.

Using large and small mixing bowls for the outlines, Dino traced and cut out the cardboard wreath forms. We needed eleven pinwheels to complete one wreath. Place a dab of hot glue on the back of each pinwheel and press onto the cardboard wreath, continue until no cardboard is showing.

The kids now have a festive and fun wreath to adorn their bedroom doors and its completely recyclable at the end of the season. (Although I'm hoping we can get a couple seasons out of these!)

Paper Snowflakes

This is such an obvious decoration but by using the endless stream of school papers that come home instead of new, you are not wasting virgin paper. I even like the whimsy look of the sentences shining through the snowflakes. Light blue handouts make really neat colored snowflakes, too.

Glass Snow Jars

These glass snow jars were so easy and fun to make. Just grab any empty glass jars with a lid around your house and fill with white sugar. Add little animals, trees, Santas or whatever for your own homemade version of snow globes.

Don't throw out the sugar after the holidays- turn it into a body scrub! Waste not, want not: 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup oil (almond, grape, apricot, etc.), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger and 1 tsp nutmeg. Mix all together and store in an airtight jar. Watch the shower floor after use as it can get slippery!

Eco-friendly holiday decorations can be fun, cute and rather inexpensive. Maybe family craft night can be a tradition in your house this year. Don't forget the popcorn and hot cocoa!

No comments:

Post a Comment