Go Green Over Winter Break

December 2014

Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the days between Thanksgiving to New Year's Day than any other time of year, according to the ULS Report. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week of waste heading to landfills. But big cuts in this waste can be made with small changes. For instance, if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet, (Holiday Recycling). Combine all that extra trash, food-waste and the carbon emissions associated with holiday travel and entertaining, this time of year can be tough on our natural resources.

And a lot of times, being green can save a little green, too. Consider these tips for a greener holiday season:

Food and Entertaining

  • Plan a meal with lower impact on the environment by serving food that is locally and sustainably grown. Visit farmer’s markets to get fresh meat, produce and breads for your holiday feast (and help keep your local farmers in business).
  • Cook less to minimize food waste or freeze leftovers right away – or the next day.
  • Send e-cards and e-vites or make holiday phone calls instead of mailing paper greetings and invitations.
  • Use reusable, recyclable and/or compostable plates, napkins, cups and utensils. Provide recycling containers for your guests.

Travel

  • Encourage guests to carpool to offset the carbon footprint of air travel.
  • Turn down your home’s thermostat and water heater when you are out of town.

Decorating

  • Purchase a live tree with a rootball and replant it after the holidays.
  • Recycle your tree into mulch – many cities and towns offer chipper service after the holidays.
  • Decorate using items that can be reused, or swap items with friends and family instead of buying new ones.
  • Decorate with fewer lights or put them on a timer. When buying lights, choose LEDs, which use less energy.

Gifts

  • To reduce gas consumption, carpool and consolidate shopping trips.
  • When possible, buy locally produced gifts. They have a much lower carbon footprint than goods manufactured overseas.
  • Consider using packaging that can be reused, such as baskets or fabric. Or choose recycled wrapping, such as newspaper or last year’s gift bags.