Ideas for an eco friendly holiday season
Home waste increases dramatically during the holidays. Try these eco friendly tips.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of U.S. household waste increases by 25% — that's one million extra tons — each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Make your holidays more eco friendly with these tips for reducing waste and conserving energy while you celebrate.
- Invite electronically. Announce your holiday get-together using online services such as Evite.com. This reduces paper waste and makes RSVPs easier for your guests.
- Use natural decorations. Skip the plastic pine cones and aluminum tinsel and instead create festive displays using driftwood, dried grasses, winter berries and other natural items.
- Eat local. Plan your menu around foods that are grown locally as well as those that are in season.
- Lose the disposables. The holidays are a special time of year, so pull out the china, stemware and cutlery. Not only will this add a touch of class to your party, it will reduce the amount of trash.
- Opt for LEDs. Outdoor LED holiday lights use up to 90% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and can last 20 to 30 years. Use LED lights indoors as well — on a tree, a mantel, in a menorah and in holiday centerpieces. Save even more energy by using a timer to shut lights off automatically.
- Pay attention to packaging. Try to purchase gifts with the least amount of packaging. If you're shipping presents, create your own packing materials using eco friendly products such as recycled newspaper and shredded paper.
- Make your own gift wrap. Add a personal touch to gift-giving this year by making your own gift wrap. Try using old maps, the Sunday comics, a scarf, or a reusable cloth bag. Send kids on a treasure hunt to find their special gifts — and skip the wrapping altogether. If gift wrap and ribbons are in good shape, save them to reuse next year.
- Provide recycling bins. Set out clearly labeled recycling bins at parties so guests can recycle bottles, cans and other items rather than tossing them in the wastebasket.
- Give away leftovers. Send extra food home with guests in reusable containers, or freeze leftovers for another day.
- Replant your Christmas tree. Select a small potted tree that you can replant after the holidays. Or, if you get a fresh tree, turn it into compost or send it through a chipper to make mulch. In some areas of the country, you can even rent a tree.
- Offer some gifts unwrapped. The gift of time or shared experiences such as tickets to a show or a sporting event create meaningful memories — and no wrapping paper waste.