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Here's to a Green Christmas!

I like to pick up things here and there throughout the year, long before cardboard Christmas trees, blue Hanukkah stars, red tinsel bells and cartoon snowmen with green scarves decorate every aisle of every store.  I find things on sale and if I buy a few things each month, it's easier on our budget than doing all of my shopping over a few weeks in December. I'm going to be telling some secrets in this blog so I hope my family doesn't read this. In past years, I've given my sister and mother re-usable bags for grocery shopping but that was the extent of my "green gifting. This year, as I'm making more and more efforts to be Earth Friendly, I ordered some reusable produce bags for myself and my family. It's so silly to bring in reusable bags and then fill them up with plastic produce bags. The bags are of a super lightweight mesh and fold up very small for transport. I ordered them from a popular website that sells high quality hand-made items and I felt like the price was more than fair. As most of you know, I'm also working on making my own non-toxic cleaning products from everyday household products like baking soda and vinegar. On a whim, I also decided to make some home-made anti-bacterial hand-soap after I found some old glycerin bars from my old soap making days. Over ten years ago, I started making soap as a craft with an eight year old I was babysitting. Back then I wasn't worried about being non-toxic and we were adding all kinds of scents and colors and we did made some cute, though not all-natural, soap. This time I just used the pure glycerine (melted in a bowl in the microwave), stirred in some Tea Tree Oil for it's anti-bacterial properties, as well as some quick-cook plain oatmeal. I used the oatmeal for it's soothing properties (my daughter with eczema takes oatmeal baths to help heal her itchy, dry skin). I liked how the oatmeal gave my soap some color and texture too. I'd love to add some fun essential oils next time if I remember to pick some up at the store. My favorites are peppermint and orange. Instead of buying more plastic molds, I wanted to use things I already had on hand. I poured the soap in small plastic snack-sized plastic cups for big bars and used the lids for smaller bars. (The soaps in the picture are from my first batch). Lastly, I'm giving both my mother and sister a box of soap nuts because I really like mine--all-natural, compostable and re-newable. I sent a trial bag of five nuts back with my mother after her recent visit and she reports that she's very pleased with the results--clean, soft clothes and no artificial scent. I'm glad you like them, Mom, because you'll be getting some more! I know not everyone would appreciate these kind of practical, no-nonsense and no-frills gifts, but like me, both my parents and my sister and brother-in-law are environmentally conscious and extremely practical. They take pride in being frugal and resourceful and I'm glad because frankly, I'm having fun with this and hopefully, making a small difference in the health of the planet. Do you ever or receive give home-made or green gifts? Happy Holidays!  
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  • I love ideas on how to be more green… especially at Christmas time! Thank you!

    kelsey on
  • I used to make a lot of gifts, it is so rewarding for both the maker and the giver. Last year I gifted reuseable wraps for gifts, and everyone loved them! When I had more time, I would sew for my extended family, but now that is down to a card! Why not make homemade cards? You can buy blank cards and have fun decorating with your kids. I made a pact with a friend to only gift handmade items and we were both happy at the thought. I will be making some drawer sachets like my grandma used to make. :)

    Sonya on
  • I’m trying to be more green this year, and that includes thinking about Christmas gifts! I’m planning to give some un-paper towels, as well as homemade ornaments. I’ve been a little intimidated by soap-making, but I like the ideas in this article and may have to try them out! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Keara B. on
  • Homemade, handmade, and green gifts are practically all that happens in my family. I come from a family of farmers and for the last 4 generations we’ve been nothing if not frugal and conscientious. I’m the first one in the last 3 generations, however, to learn from scratch soap making and I have fun coming up with new additions and recipes for gifts every year. Even those of us who aren’t quite so rural or self-sufficiency minded anymore appreciate a nice bar of what would be luxury soap if bought in any retail shop and it’s a lot cheaper than buying everyone stuff.

    Ada Mangoes on
  • If you can sew, you can make your own produce bags in about ten minutes. Buy cheap nylon tulle and cut it into 17×22 inch rectangles. Fold an inch down on the long side and zig zag stitch straight across to make a pocket for the string. Fold in half width-wise to make a 16X11 inch pouch. Back stitch a quarter inch down from the top. Then cut the thread and move the foot to the bottom edge of the pocket. Stitch the two sides. Slide a string through the pocket and tie. And that’s it! I made some about five years ago and they’re still going strong! They machine wash, and hang dry (takes about five minutes!)

    Aryn on

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