Ever year, I hear people complain that the holidays have become too materialistic. I think it’s true, and not only because the whole holiday season has taken on a “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of vibe. Also because the idea of waste and excess goes against everything I believe the holiday season stands for. Christmas should be a time to embrace family and friends, help others and reflect on ways we can do our part to improve the world. Christmas should be the green holiday.So here are some ideas to help you reduce, reuse and recycle this Christmas. 10 Ways to Have a Greener Christmas Re-think re-gifting. No matter what Jerry Seinfeld says, re-gifting is okay. If you’ve received a gift that you really don’t need, re-gifting makes perfect sense. Look for ways you can reuse an unneeded gift by passing it on to someone who can use it. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so re-gift with care and consideration. But keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful. Buy Less. It’s the though that counts, remember? Not all gifts have to be purchased. Homemade gifts can show your thoughtfulness. Shop together. My friends and I do this every year. We car-pool! We make a day of going Christmas shopping together. First we hit the local holiday marketplace, then the farmer’s market and grab lunch. We spend the afternoon walking around the local shops we all love. Going shopping together not only saves fuel, it’s a fun way to enjoy the season with people you care about. Go the Secret Santa route. If you have a long gift list for family members, why not divide it up? Write names on individual slips of paper and put into a hat or basket, then take turns drawing names. The name you draw is your gift recipient. Keep your chosen name a secret until the gift exchange to maintain the element of surprise. Keep it local. Check out local craft fairs and holiday marketplaces to find local or handmade treasures. You’ll feel good about giving something unique and special that comes without any unnecessary transportation costs. Give to others. Teach children the true spirit of giving during the holidays by asking them to pick 2-3 toys that they no longer play with and donating them to a homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter or other service organization like the Salvation Army. Grown-ups can do the same with winter coats, blankets and shoes that can be donated to the those in need. Lower your impact. Reduce the size of your lighting display to conserve electricity. If you’re buying new lights this year, buy LED holiday lights. They use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last longer. Remember to turn out all holiday lights at bedtime, and keep them off during the daytime. Choose a live tree. Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are sent to landfills, where their plastic content last forever. Live trees are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. If you buy a live, potted tree, you’ll be able to reuse the tree for 2- 3 years without having to plant or re-pot the tree. If you can, consider planting the tree outdoors after Christmas. Be sure to anticipate the full-grown size of the tree, and avoid planting near foundations or underground services. Also, many communities now have a free chipping service for trees. If you can keep the chipped material, it makes excellent mulch for your shrub beds. Make your own Christmas greeting cards. Use eco-friendly cards or just use email. Store bought cards can be expensive and they use a huge amount of natural resources for what is essentially a throw-away item. Handmade cards are unique and personal. Use last years Christmas cards to make cards for this year. Last year’s calendar or art work from the kids also make beautiful choices for handmade greeting cards. There are also some great tree-free alternatives to traditional cards from The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company. Made from odorless elephant dung, they certainly will be a conversation starter! Find more eco-friendly recycled card suggestions in Top 5 Recycled Holiday Cards. Email greeting cards are a great alternative to traditional paper cards, too. Plus you can personalize each card. No more cookie-cutter cards. Find some neat ones at Hallmark.com or Smilebox.com. Green your gift wrap. No one will notice if you don’t use store-bought wrapping paper. Instead, use collected and saved paper bags from the grocery store, news print that was destined for the recycling center or left over fabric to wrap gifts. Be creative. Skip the store bought bows and use natural objects to adorn your packages. How about pine cones, holly leaves or magnolia leaves? Or use ribbon leftover from last Christmas.