Green First Christmas

First Green Christmas

Written by Adrienne Egolf

Last year, I got the best Christmas gift of my life: my son, Sam, was born on December 25, 2012. It was truly the most memorable present I could have asked for — and he definitely didn’t come wrapped under my tree!

This year, with a one-year-old in our family, I’m betting that Santa Claus is going to be making a stop at my house.

Here’s how I’ll make my son’s first Christmas (and birthday) as green as possible:

Give Small

Since we first got married, my husband and I have always enjoyed a less-is-more approach to gift giving. We plan to continue that tradition now that our family has grown. We’re going to skip the wrapped packages under our tree and instead fill our son’s stocking with a few of his favorite things — a book, Cheerios, a banana. For the birthday part of our celebration, we’ve chosen one big gift that we know will get a lot of use by our family for years to come. (It’s a sled. Shhh, don’t tell him.)

Buy Used

When it comes to kids clothes and toys, I’m a big fan of shopping at consignment stores. The fast turnover of kids’ clothes makes it easy to find used duds that look like new. And a little soap and water (and sometimes new batteries) go a long way to refreshing a previously loved toy. When I shop at my favorite consignment store, I check clothes for small holes, fraying at the seams and look for fabrics that are not very faded or worn thin. I always double-check toys to make sure they don’t have any missing or loose pieces, and stick to items that I can easily wipe clean with diluted bleach to disinfect.

Wish for Green

As much as I say we don’t need any new toys for my one-year-old’s first Christmas and birthday, I know that his very loving and oh-so-generous grandparents will hear none of this, which is why I made a wish list on Amazon. By identifying items we actually need, we can gratefully accept gifts from family knowing that we aren’t  creating an unnecessary surplus of “things.” And building the wish list has given me an opportunity to steer potential gift givers toward the most sustainable products available. Many of the toys we’ve wished for are 100 percent recycled materials, made in the US and come in streamlined packaging.

How will YOU green your holidays? Share your eco-friendly tips »

Adrienne Egolf is a marketing specialist for The Nature Conservancy in New York City.

[Image: Baby’s first Christmas ornament. Image source: nettsu/Flickr via Creative Commons license]