While the holiday season brings plenty of good cheer, it also brings plenty of extra consumption, extra energy expenditure, and extra garbage, including wrapping and packaging, which can take a toll on our environment. In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Americans produce more household waste than any other time of year.
Follow these tips to minimize your environmental impact during the holiday season:
· Avoid using disposable plates, cups, glasses, and utensils at holiday gatherings and parties. If you need more, borrow friends or families plates – it makes it nice to share dish patterns and traditions. If in your budget, rent the partyware and save time and money on washing the dishes.
· Give gifts that can be experienced like concert tickets, sporting event passes, or massage gift certificates. These gifts don't need much wrapping either!
· Wrap gifts with recycled materials like colorful magazine pages, this year’s calendar, old maps, and newspapers or comics, or use reusable materials like decorative boxes, tins, bags, and cloth ribbon.
· Buy and send holiday cards made from recycled paper. Cut up last year’s cards for gift tags.
· Use low-energy holiday lights that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, which are 90% more efficient than traditional holiday lights.
· Bring your own reusable tote bags when you go out holiday shopping to avoid accumulating excessive bags.
· Look for environmentally sound gifts: rechargeable batteries for electronic equipment, reusable thermoses & water bottles, canvas tote bags, compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flowing shower heads, and items made from recycled materials.
· As you upgrade computer equipment, cell phones, electronics, and appliances, donate and recycle old belongings. The following websites offer computer and electronics recycling: www.goodwill.org, www.recycle-steel.org, www.collectivegood.com, www.donateaphone.com, www.reclamere.com.
· Call company's that are sending you mail order catalogs and ask them to remove you from their mailing lists. And recycle all your catalogs.
· Refrain from using tinsel when decorating your Christmas Tree or spraying it with “snow”. Tinsel and “snow” are plastic and will make mulching or recycling the tree less environmentally beneficial.
· Save your tree place in your yard as winter bird habitat. It is a cozy place for bird to rest. By spring all the needles are off and can be put out with spring brush for composting .
· Recycle your Christmas tree! Trees can be ground into wood chips to mulch gardens or parks, instead of taking up space in a landfill. Most cities pick up Christmas trees for recycling or find a location that accepts used trees by visiting www.earth911.org.