Give a Gift to the Planet and Turn Your Holiday Green

Every year it's the same, we spend hours wrapping these beautiful gifts only to have the lovely paper torn to shreds within 15 minutes. Quickly the colorful finery becomes littered about the Christmas tree with nary a glance from our eager, wide-eyed children. It's not their fault, opening presents is exciting, we were the same way when we were kids. But just because tradition states throwing away bulging bags of pretty garbage is normal, that doesn't mean we can't work to make this holiday season more eco-friendly through second-hand goods, reusing items and shopping smart. 

Shopping Second Hand

Save money and cut down on trash by looking to places such as Good Buy Gear for gently used and open-box kid gear to stuff stockings and put under the tree. Children really don't care about packaging, so why should you? It's easier to play with that electronic dinosaur right away if it's not entombed in plastic, plus, by saving a fraction of the cost you can get something else your child covets as well or save the money for a future item. 

Stocking stuffers too should be procured on the cheap, which is where a consignment shop or second-hand store comes in. Fill that sock with plastic animals, small games, cute figures and little stuffed toys, or anything else you can find that will be fun. It's not worth it to spend a lot of money on this part of Christmas (if you do it) since often the stocking presents get overlooked once the tree gifts come into play. You can even trade small toys with a friend or other parents to give your littles something different to look at. 

Other items to consider seeking out second hand include play food. Plenty of great sets come through and a simple washing makes sure that wooden carrot or plastic apple are ready for the next kid. Put a bunch of this stuff in a wicker basket, it not only will keep the toys nice looking, but can be used for "cooking" and "eating" as well. Same can be said for other pretend play toys like plastic dinosaurs, action figures or dolls. Make the wrapping part of the gift and double your contribution to the holiday. 

Toy cars are another item to get gently used. Any parent knows when a kid discovers toy cars they end up with bucket loads, but eventually the novelty wears off or you find yourself with too many. Sell the ones your kids don't play with anymore and then buy a fresh bunch from Good Buy Gear to use in stockings, to decorate the tree, as a fun scavenger hunt or just make little garage out of a box and present them that way. It's way more fun than loosing half the Hot Wheels you bought new in all the empty containers. 

Eco-Friendly Toy Brands

A while back we wrote about some amazing Earth-friendly toy brands we love, and we still stand by those companies. Some like Green Toys use all recycled materials to make sturdy plastic toys that not only look cute, but prove durable against the most aggressive child and can easily be washed. Plan Toys makes sure all the materials used to make its wooden goods get sustainably sourced, don't use harmful chemicals, and the people harvesting the plants are treated fairly. 

We also like to see stuff from Tegu, a company that makes the popular magnet blocks that kids can't get enough of. Like literately, we find our son always "needs" another pile of these sustainable wooden shapes, even when he as a bucket full. Learn more about the companies making your kids' toys, and aim to support those who give back to the communities involved. 

This is a good time to shop local too. Check out local artisan markets and holiday shops that showcase goods coming from your state. You might find the best new toy to gift, a onsie or T-shirt with a clever logo or photo not seen elsewhere, and quality games, art projects and other kid-friendly items. 

Alternatives To Wrapping Paper

Yes, wrapping paper is pretty, but each year it ends up as useless trash. A study of 2,000 households in 2017 found the average family will use up four rolls of wrapping paper and a roll-and-a-half of sticky tape; and in the end fill up around three-and-a-half large garbage bags with used packaging. This season lower that carbon footprint and try something new in the gifting department by sourcing reusable packaging or skipping traditional wrappings all together. 

We're talking gift boxes, tote bags, pieces of lovely cloth you tie around an item with a real ribbon, and placing some presents out sans a cover where your kid can see them on Christmas morning such as the easel, rocking horse or that giant truck they coveted. Another solution, go to the thrift store and hunt for pretty scarves, old maps or posters, ornaments to deck out the package, large paper books that can be converted into fun wrapping, and other baubles and pieces to make not only an eco-friendly wrapper, but a gift that stands out. 

There's also a market for reusable wrappings, such as products featuring stretching fabric that goes around the gift and creates a simple bow in the process, and decorated cloth bags that close with a drawstring. Keep in mind twine recycles better than plastic ribbon, and you can spruce anything up with a sprig of holly or pine you find outside in the park or on your block. 

Also, don't underestimate the person who carefully unwraps their gift and saves each piece of paper. It might be annoying to watch, but think of how much you're saving, both money and trash wise, when you use something again. You can even take packing materials from mailed items to create fun and unusual wrappings. If you have the plain brown paper, draw some festive pictures or make a sponge stamp to give it character, or just let the ribbon do the talking. No matter which way you go, put a little effort into wasting less resources this holiday season.

Minimizing Physical Gifts

There's no rule stating all holiday cheer comes from physical goods. Cut down on waste and the clutter Christmas can bring by requesting memberships to museums or zoos, funds to pay for a gymnastic class or swimming lessons, or even a donation to a charity your child is drawn too. These sorts of gifts truly keep giving for weeks, months and even the whole year. Plus, it's a good way to open up conversations with your kids about helping others and the need for things in life that aren't materialistic. 

In turn, you child can also give presents based on helping and experiences. For example, instead of a pot holder have your son visit his grandma and vacuum or sweep for her. Sing carols to the neighbors or pass out hand-made coupons for snow shoveling. These sorts of actions help keep the holidays about people and connections rather than just showcasing sugar and collecting stuff.

De-Clutter Before the Big Day

Now is the time to clean up all those toys and baby gear no one is using. Make room for new and gently used stuff by selling your own unwanted items. Good Buy Gear will even pick it up for you so you can start organizing your home. Then use the money you make to get that larger item your kid has been begging for, be that a bike, air hockey table, bouncy horse or scooter. A lot of this stuff can be sourced from a second-shop or online consignment store, so in the end you may not be spending any money to make the holidays feel magical. 

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