Green Giving

I love Christmas. I love giving gifts.

While I do like the idea of giving family and friends environmentally-friendly and benevolent Christmas gifts like a donation in their name to a charity of choice, I have a hard time denying myself the pleasure of buying them something I know they'll love or need. For my grandma, it was new, chef's-quality knives (hers are at least 20 years old and DULL). For my dad, a DVD of HBO's John Adams.

I do try to shop consciously. I buy local whenever possible (a "Don't Hate the 918" shirt for my brother from Dwelling Spaces, wooden toys for my son from Lundeby's Eco Baby), I try to buy only useful, purposeful items (no knickknacks that will end up on a shelf collecting dust or in the trash) and I wrap gifts in either Better Bags from Whole Foods (at $.99 each, they're a lot cheaper and greener than gift bags) or recycled brown butcher paper.

Every year at Christmas, I'm in charge of corralling our discarded Christmas wrap. I save as much of it as I can, stashing it away for reuse next year. This year, after everyone opens their gifts, I plan to horde the butcher paper I gave them in and take it home and let my son fingerpaint on it. You can probably get milk-based paints at Lundeby's, but I've also found a few recipes for making your own online.

Recipe #1
1 quart skim milk (room temperature)
1 once of hydrated lime by weight (Do not use quick lime)
1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as a filler (You can buy chalk dust or grind chalk yourself)
->Stir together milk and lime to form a smooth paste. Add color pigment of your choice and apply with a natural bristle brush. Allow first coat to dry sufficiently before applying another. Finish off with an oil finish if desired.

Recipe #2

Powdered Skim Milk
Food Coloring
->Mix just enough powder and water to create the consistency of paint. Add food coloring of your choice or make a tincture with various herbs and vegetables. Strain through a cheesecloth.

Recipe #3
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cups cold water
Wire whisk or eggbeater
1 1/4 cups hot water
Food coloring or powdered tempera paint
->Mix the flour and salt in the saucepan. Beat in the cold water until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the hot water and boil the mixture until it's thick, then beat it again until it's smooth. Tint the paint however you like with food coloring or powdered tempera paint. Cover the paint and refrigerate it for storage.

I cannot endorse any of these recipes because I have not yet tried them. But it sounds like a good idea. I would love to hear from you what your plans/tips are for greening the holidays.


smörgåsbroad said...

Some ideas: Reusable cloth gift bags (really easy to make). Not using gift wrap in general (though unwrapping is pretty fun). Making homemade gifts. Finding just the right thing at an antique shop/thrift store/flea market/Ebay.

gavin said...

if ure dads a thomas jefferson fan, such as myself, he wont be as pleased w/ it. i watched it, hoping thered be some good jefferson scenes, but alas, there wasnt. its good nontheless.

Shelly Collins said...

Thanks for sharing the paint idea. I am making at least one gift for Christmas. I learned how to make a woven yarn basket while observing at Owasso a few weeks ago. So I'm attempting it for my sister in law. I'd love to show you the technique - it is so easy and it looks impressive. You can make rugs, pot holders, or baskets, so fun.