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Green Your Holidays

Every year I try to be more mindful about how my entertaining, decorating and gift giving affects the environment. Some studies say that household waste in the US increases by 20 to 25% during the holidays. Yikes! Here are a few ideas about how to keep a closer eye on the stuff that typically ends up in the trash can. Gifts Do your friends and relatives really need another “thing” in their closet? Mine don’t. Try some of these ideas:
  • Give a consumable gift, like food or body care treats.
  • Give an experience, like theater tickets, a cooking class or a dinner out.
  • Make a donation to an organization he or she supports.
  • Agree to exchange well wishes and time together NOT gifts.
  • If you do give a “thing” gift, make it thoughtful. Would that graduate student better appreciate a case of her favorite healthy snack bars over a CD or sweater?
Gift wrap This certainly one that has the potential to generate a lot of fodder for the landfill! Planning ahead is key but even if you are getting a late start, some of these tips are bound to work.
  • Save tissue paper all year long, along with fancy shopping bags.
  • Keep an eye out at thrift stores and yard sales for colorful scarves and baskets.
  • Go with reusable bags, like our smaller sized Better Bags, which are just the right size for most gifts, plus they are sturdy enough for heavier items. Around 79 cents!
  • Decorate bags and baskets with dried rose buds or herb sprays and maybe a bit of cloth ribbon or twine.
  • Wrap in a tie-dyed scarf or new bandana.
  • For gifts that need paper wrapping, go with a roll of recycled content paper printed with water-based inks.
Parties and big meals While washable plates are great if you have enough, that’s not always the case for holiday entertaining. Use recycled, compostable paper plates or elegant one-time use plates and bowls made from plant fibers like bamboo or pressed palm leaves instead. Don’t forget to set our compost, recycle and trash receptacles. Lights Each year I’ve been replacing one strand of old lights with LED ones, and I have noticed the positive difference in my electric bill in December. I’ll box up and send the last of my old lights to be recycled to an organization that I support. You can search for other options on the internet; some national retailers like Home Depot offer a lights recycling service, as well. These are my top-of-mind ideas for this season. I know a lot of our readers have great ideas too. What are your helpful tips for making the holidays green?