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Seven Steps to a Green Holiday

Green is one of the traditional colors of the holiday season, but the green we have in mind is the environmentally friendly kind. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 54% of waste is landfilled, so going green this season is the greatest gift you can give to the Earth and ultimately to our families and our future. Celebrate the holidays this year by giving the gift of green with these fun and festive eco-friendly tips.

  1. Use LED lights.
    These small Light Emitting Diodes use 80% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, plus they’re cool to the touch. Look for the Energy Star seal for lights with the highest energy efficiency rating.
  2. Send e-cards.
    Replace snail mail cards and letters with e-cards and e-mails to save paper and mailing expense. This also will reduce your carbon footprint since it eliminates the fuel used for transporting standard mail.
  3. Buy locally.
    Support your local economy by buying from local merchants, craft shows, or antique shops. Shopping gifts made locally instead of products which have been transported long distances reduces greenhouse emissions.
  4. Reuse your holiday tree.
    Consider buying a living tree you can plant outside or keep as a houseplant after the holidays.
    Live cut trees can be composted, and some communities offer free chipping services. Chips can be used for mulch and gardening. Most artificial trees are also recyclable.
  5. Choose green gifts.
    Select gifts that don’t require much packaging, like gift certificates, tickets to a show, potted plants, or homemade treats. Give the gift of charity and ask that loved ones donate to a green cause on your behalf. Give in ways that also support your community: tickets to local theater performances, concerts, sports events, local attractions, museum memberships, or gift certificates.
  6. Set a more Earth-friendly table.
    The choices you make when you’re at the grocery store can help you reduce your personal agricultural carbon footprint. Meat intake is a good place to start—just by reducing your meat consumption, you could help reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by about one-third. At your holiday dinner table, this translates to a greater number of vegetable or grain-based dishes, giving meat a smaller role.
  7. Reuse bows, ribbon, and wrapping paper.
    Avoid non-recyclable metallic paper. Waste reducing wrapping alternatives include newspaper, paper bags, maps, and posters. If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

With these seven steps, going green for the holidays is easy, fun and economical. Earth-friendly activities like making holiday cards and replanting a live tree are also opportunities to spend time with family and teach children how to enjoy taking care of their environment.

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