Thursday, December 9, 2010

If It Is Thursday It's Going Green - Holiday Season

Remember the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

Plan to purchase a living Christmas tree with roots attached. Later you can plant it in your yard or donate it to your local parks department. If it’s a cut tree, recycle it. Shred the live tree and use the mulch in the garden around evergreen shrubs and trees.

If purchasing new holiday lights, consider seasonal light emitting diode, or LED, strings of lights. These can use up to 95 percent less energy than conventional bulbs, and they last seven times longer than traditional bulbs. Using holiday lighting wisely can lower power consumption. Timers and photo cells can also help reduce power usage by turning the lights on at dusk and turning them off at a desired time. Avoid leaving lights on all night. More strings of lights means more energy used. Try reducing the number of strings of lights this season. Tinsel can be used to amplify lighting.

Be financially responsible - Overspending during the holidays will not only increase your stress now, but will leave you feeling anxious for months afterward as you struggle to pay the bills. Step back from the excessive gift-giving and practice simplicity, creativity and basic human kindness.

Be creative - The amount of household garbage in the U.S. increases by about one million tons of rubbish between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the EPA, and much of that is packaging. If you are mailing gifts, use recycled packing materials like newspaper and cardboard (please, no Styrofoam packing peanuts!). Shiny, metallic and plastic-coated wrapping paper can’t be reused or recycled, but there are lots of wrapping papers and ribbons that are made of 100 percent recycled waste, and gift bags are a great reusable option. If you are feeling creative, think outside the box that is being wrapped. You can use old maps, the comic section of the newspaper, magazines, wallpaper, Christmas cards, crossword puzzles, posters, sheet music, or children's artwork. Or use a scarf, an attractive dishtowel, bandana, or some other useful cloth item. If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Add organic and local foods to your holiday feast. - Support local family farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Not only does it taste better, you'll be doing your part for the planet too. Ask around to find out where to get local green products in your neighborhood.

Donate your time or money to an environmental group. Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering! There are countless ways to help improve your community—and the planet—from cleaning up a local river to helping inner city children experience the outdoors for the first time. Contact your local Sierra Club to find out about volunteer opportunities near you. A donation in honor of a loved one can also be a special holiday gift.

Don’t forget – "together we can make a difference!"

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