Tips on Going Green for the Holidays

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With the holiday season right around the corner, 'tis the season to be green. The holidays can be one of the least eco-friendly times of the year, so it's important that this year we don't forget to keep the environment in mind.

Here's a few ways we found that can make your holidays GREEN

Make Memories not Misery

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the madness. Remember what the holidays are really about. Family and Friends. Give experiences instead of stuff. Try tickets to a show, a ball game, or a scenic train ride instead of dust-collecting knickknacks. Tailor the gift to the recipient: club or museum memberships, craft or hobby lessons, IOU for a home-cooked meal, an afternoon of gardening help, free babysitting, and so on. Remember the simply pleasures of just being with those you care about.

Save while Sustaining

This year when picking out a Christmas tree, here are a few options you should consider to make a greener Christmas choices.
  • Live Christmas Tree - Instead of buying a cut Christmas tree, buy a live tree so you can replant it once the holidays are over. You can also send live decorated Christmas trees through mail order to far away family and friends.
  • Cut Christmas Tree - If you do buy a cut Christmas tree, try to find ones that are organic, grown without pesticides or chemicals. Once you're done with your tree, make sure you recycle it or compost it.
  • Artificial Christmas Tree - Although most artificial Christmas trees are not recyclable, they can be a green alternative if you reuse your same tree every year.
  • No Tree - This option isn't for everyone, but it is possible to use other items as decorations if you don't have a Christmas tree. I have had customer buy a large wreath and decorate it.

Be Creative while Conserving

With millions of houses decorated with lights this time of year, energy consumption increases, so it's important that if you are smart about what types of decorations you use to help save energy.
  • Use LED Lights - Switch out any old Christmas lights with energy-efficient LED Christmas lights. These LED lights are great for decorating both indoors and outdoors and last longer than your standard bulbs. Not just bright and colorful, but good for the environment too.
  • Turn lights off - The best way to be green is to conserve, Remember though, even if your lights are energy-efficient, so make sure you turn off your lights at night.
  • Use Less - Your house doesn't have to light up the whole neighborhood to show your holiday spirit. So this year use a few less lights and more candles!
  • Go Natural - String together plain popcorn and fresh cranberries into long, colorful swags to hang on the tree, along the mantelpiece, or in the windows. (This is a great activity for the kids!) After the holidays you can hang the strings outside for the birds to enjoy. Make your own ornaments and Christmas cards from recycled materials. Even better than paper Christmas cards are e-cards for your friends and family who are computer savvy. Show your holiday spirit as well as your green spirit.
  • Go Local not Loco - Plan shopping in advance to cut back on fuel, and think about your route. Shopping downtown? Take public transportation. Bring your own shopping bags while you're at it. Seek out regionally produced, one-of-a-kind gifts. Good sources include church fairs, craft shows, local boutiques, and flea markets.
  • Re-gift - Here's your official permission to pass along that present you can't use.

Shop Green

When shopping for holiday gifts this season, eco-friendly products should be at the top of everyone's list.
  • Organic - When shopping for clothes, look for organic apparel made from all natural materials without the use of pesticides or chemicals.
  • Recycled - There are a lot of items made from recycled materials that would make great gifts, such as recycled furniture or glassware.
  • Sustainable - Bamboo is a plant that has the ability to grow extremely fast, making it an eco-friendly choice. Try shopping for bamboo products such as furniture, clothing, and bedding.
  • Reusable - Giving loved ones reusable items is a great way to pass on the green spirit. Try giving reusable shopping bags as an eco-friendly gift this season.
  • Energy Efficient - Electronics make great holiday gifts, so when you shop, make sure that you look for energy-efficient products that meet environmental quality standards for energy saving. Instead of adding bulk to the landfill, choose gifts that come with a minimum of product packaging, and try to find packaging that's recyclable.

Reuse and Recycle

This time of year, Americans throw away more than any other time of the year. With all of the extra gift wrapping and gift packaging, it is important to recycle and reuse as much as possible.


  • Reuse as much gift wrap as possible and save any extra bows, ribbons, or bags that can be reused. Wrap presents in road maps, posters, Sunday comics, fabric remnants or decorate a plain paper sack.
  • If you do need to buy new gift wrap, make sure it's eco-friendly. Foil paper, tissue paper and ribbon cannot be recycled. Try to save and reuse packaging like boxes and bubble wrap if you need to mail any gifts.
  • You can also recycle any old items such as electronics that you may have if they're replaced by new gifts once the holidays are over. Things like computer monitors, laptops, cell phones and computers can all be recycled.
  • Make gift tags from last years holiday cards.
  • For your holiday dinners, try using non-disposable utensils and dishes to reduce waste.
  • Place easily identifiable recycling containers and signage at your celebration.
  • Donate: It's the season of giving - instead of throwing away all of your old clothes and other things this year, donate them instead. This will not only keep your old items out of a landfill, but also into a better home for someone who could use them.

These are just a few tips to help you have a greener holiday but there are many other ways you can help the environment while enjoying your holidays. Be creative and keep the environment in mind this holiday season!