Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but its carbon footprint can be downright ridiculous. From holiday travel to the mountains of wrapping paper and packaging that finds its way into the landfills, Christmas can be very wasteful. But unless you're Scrooge, skipping out on holiday traditions may be unthinkable. Instead, try these green tips to make your holiday a little more merry and bright.

Buy a potted tree

Oh Christmas tree. It may be an integral part of holiday celebrations, but it's not always an eco-friendly option. Sure, an artificial tree will last for years, but when you consider the fact that it's non-recyclable and was most likely shipped from China, your tree could have a big footprint. But getting a fresh cut tree may not be the greenest option either. Live trees can usually be repurposed as mulch after the holidays, but a tree still had to be chopped down. Perhaps the best option is to buy a potted Christmas tree from your local nursery. These trees can be placed in your home and loaded down with all your favorite decorations. And when the holidays are over, you can plant the tree in your yard.

Use alternatives to wrapping paper

On Christmas morning people all over the world rip through layers of wrapping paper. Most of this paper gets tossed in the trash, but with a little preparation, you can choose greener options. For example, brown paper packages tied up with string are a better (and cheaper) option than purchasing sparkly, foil paper. You just need to transform your old plain paper bags from the grocery store into giftwrap. And you can still give the package some holiday flair by drawing Christmas designs on the paper. Out of paper bags? No problem. Santa's not the only one who can use a cloth bag for all his goodies. Try wrapping presents in renewable cotton bags; not only will the material avoid the landfill, the recipient can use it over and over again. And if you absolutely must buy wrapping paper this year, there are plenty of recycled options on the market.

Deck the halls with recycled decorations

Instead of trimming your tree with pricey store-bought decorations consider making your own out of recycled materials. For example, old incandescent light bulbs, which can't be sent to the local recycling center, can be painted to look like penguins. If you’re a wine drinker, save up your old corks and glue them together in the shape of a candy cane or wreath. Bottle caps can be painted and glued together to make Frosty the Snowman, and leftover Popsicle sticks can bring joy to the world if you reuse them to make snowflake ornaments. Not a crafty person? Think about going to the local thrift store. You may be able to find old Christmas items that need new life.

Send your season's greetings over the Internet

Have yourself a merry little Christmas this year by skipping the traditional Christmas card. Most of these cards will get one quick glance before they are stuck in a pile and eventually thrown in the trash. Perhaps this is one area where the thought is really all that counts. Instead of handing out cards that will only harm the environment, send your Christmas greetings through email. You can still send a personal note or pictures of your family. But you don't have to waste a ream of paper to make sure your friends and family know they have been thought of. And since sending an email is absolutely free, you won't have to spend any money on pricey cards or postage.

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