Each year as Christmas approaches, it seems as if we have more to buy, more to cook and generally more to do. How can you stay environmentally friendly with the hustle and bustle of the holidays? Green living doesn’t need to be complicated — there are everyday ways to reduce your footprint on the earth. Here are the top 3 ways to save your cash and go green at Christmas:

1. Reuse Packaging
That sweater Aunt Sue gives you every Christmas? Save the box! While you’re at it, save the paper too. If anyone wants to know why you are taking so long to open your presents instead of tearing into the paper, let them know what an impact reusing and recycling has on the earth. If your relatives aren’t environmentally friendly, and you think they might look at you like you have seven eyeballs, fib and tell them you like to savor the moment… Reusing gift bags is almost a given, they don’t come cheap and they last nearly forever.

2. Send E-cards, Save a Stamp
Mailing a card uses paper products, postage fees and fossil fuels. You can get the same message across with an e-card. If you have friends and family that aren’t into electronic greetings, then you can always make your own cards with recycled material. Which by the way, brings us to another idea for environmentally friendly Christmas greetings.
Now is the time to teach the concept of green living to your children. Grab last year’s cards and let the little ones cut out all the pretty pictures. If you are sentimental, keep the portion with the handwritten greeting. While you are reusing, grab that overflowing stack of magazines you’ve been keeping “just in case” and trim out the text to use inside of your cards. Next, cut a 9″ x 6″ piece out of a paper grocery sack using edging scissors, fold it in half and let the kids get creative with the images and paste. Consider hand-delivering the cards during holiday parties.

3. Re-gifting Isn’t Just for the White Elephant Gift Exchange
Re-gifting used to be uncouth; now it’s environmentally friendly! Be careful which gifts you give to whom. You surely don’t want to give Granny Lucille the knitting needles she so kindly sent you last year. When you receive a gift you simply can’t (or won’t) use, take a digital photo and upload it to your computer–label the picture with the date of receipt and the name of the sender so you can keep track of those precious–albeit unusable–gifts. Giving away a heartfelt gift isn’t mean spirited; it’s a way to pay forward the love while putting the gift to good use.

The holidays are the perfect time to create lifelong memories and to introduce lifelong traditions. If green living is one of your goals, there is no better time to teach friends and family how to be environmentally friendly. If you can have fun and save money while helping the environment, you are on your way to a very Merry Christmas!