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Go Greener This Holiday Season

Go Greener This Holiday Season

Bringing your own bags to the grocery store has (thankfully) become more of the norm. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” flow together as one common word in our vocabulary. But when the holidays come, it’s easy to forget about the impact the holidays take on the environment. An estimated 6 million tons of extra garbage is produced in the U.S. between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Six billion cards are sold each year in the US during the holidays – enough to fill a football field 10

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stories high! And, each year 50 million Christmas trees are purchased and about 30 million go to a landfill. 

It’s even more important to make green choices during the holiday season. You can do your part to cut the waste (and you may even save money). Don’t let holiday stress crowd out your good intentions. Here are some ways to stay “green” through the season of giving. 

1. Take your own bags, not just to the grocery store; but to the toy store, mega-stores, drug-stores, and the local stores for your holiday shopping. Here are some unique bags (which all make great gifts). Produce Bags: Do you think of those bags you put your fruits and vegetables in at the grocery store? Even they deserve a reusable bag. Market bags: these bags are great as they expand beyond what you think. Store bags: Running to a mega-store to buy quite a bit? These bags are great for larger amounts of shopping and when you not using them they fold up into itself.

2. Think outside the box. Instead of a gift that can break, wear out, or one day end up in a landfill, give tickets to a concert, play, sports event, or membership to a local museum or botanical garden. Present a coupon good for an evening of babysitting or guitar lessons.

3. Be a green wrapper. Most wrapping paper can’t be recycled, so it ends up in the trash. Make your own wrapping paper from the Sunday comics pages, maps, catalog pages, or brown paper bags. Wrap gifts in useful items such as bandanas or kitchen towels and tie with ribbon or lace. Or make cloth gift bags (inspiration here), tins, or baskets and reuse them each year. According to the Sierra Club, if every family did this with just three presents, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

4. Examine labels. By recycled. Items with recycled content help cut down on consumer waste. A wide variety of glassware, jewelry, paper products, and clothing is made with recycled materials.

5. Decorate with LED lights. LED lights use 90% less energy than standard holiday lights, and they last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors.

6. Recycle your tree. Check with your local recycling program to find out about pickup or drop-off options.

7. Recycle old electronics. Recycling cuts pollution created by making new products, conserves resources, and keeps hazardous materials out of landfills. To recycle consumer electronics: Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples provide drop boxes. Companies like HP, Dell, Sony, and AT&T provide mail-in services. And some schools have electronics recycling programs that raise money for activities. 

8. Take it from hotels. Don't be ashamed to ask guest to reuse their shower towel - hotels do it all the time!

9. Send e-cards or cards made from recyclable material. If everyone sent one less card it would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

10. Buy local.  Buying local reduces carbon footprint on transporting good across the USA or the world, beside helping out your local economy. 

Christmas doesn't have to be a burden on the environment. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season.

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