My favorite part about the holidays is decorating my home, parties and sending out holiday cards. But I don’t want to wreck the environment in the name of good tidings and cheer. Luckily, you don’t have to be a Scrooge to celebrate green. And hey, some of these tips can even save you some money — sweet!
- Deck the halls, not the landfills: Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away an additional million tons of garbage each week, including all those pretty wrappings. Buy recycled gift-wrap or use gift bags, which can be re-used (but hold the tissue paper because that can’t be recycled).
- The Giving Tree: Environmentalist are touting live trees now because they are grown on tree farms that replant each year so there’s very little damage to the ecosystem. Fake trees require a lot of energy and petroleum products to make, so they’ve fallen out of favor. But I think if you already have a fake tree, might as well use it. Throwing it out would be even more wasteful (see the first bullet). If you do get a live tree, remember to recycle it at the end of the season.
- Think LEDs: If you’re in the market for new holiday lights, go with LEDs. They’re 90 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent lights; they can last about 200,000 hours; and they remain cooler to the touch than traditional styles, making them less of a safety hazard. According to the US Dept. of Energy, if everyone replaced their conventional lights with LEDs, it could save at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or enough to power 200,000 homes for a year.
- Time it right: Set your electronic holiday decor on timers. It will save you money on your electric bill and save you the time and worry of running around turning on/off all your stuff.
- Bag it: Bring your own reusable shopping bags for your holiday shopping forays. No need to bring home more petroleum-based plastic bags. Better yet, give a few reusable shopping bags as gifts (or wrap a present in one) to spread the eco-love.
- Holiday cheer: Forgo plastic/paper dishes and cutlery for the real deal. You’ll save money and eco-resources as well as space in the landfill.
- Seasons greetings: Buy recycled cards or makes some yourself. Or use photo-sharing websites or blogs to go electronic with your greetings this year. And when all is said and done, consider donating your old cards to charity groups that reuse them to make new cards.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Limit shopping trips by combining trips as much as possible. (With gas at$3.25+ a gallon, there’s a big savings incentive here.) Carpool with other shoppers. When buying gifts, look for items with less packaging. Reuse holiday decor, gift wrap or anything else you can. And definitely recycle — trees, paper, packaging, etc.