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Climate for Action: Going Green for the Holidays

2008 December 2

About the author: Ashley Sims, a senior at Indiana University, is a fall intern with EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education through the Washington Leadership Program.

The holiday season is the most exciting time of the year. I love to try to figure out which gifts to give to my loved ones back at home. Perhaps some cute earrings for mom or a hand-made scarf for one of my girlfriends could work for presents this year. And holiday sales can be a sweet treat too. As you shop for holiday gifts, try to keep in mind the most exciting gift of them all – a healthy planet. There are many actions we can take to reduce waste and save energy during the holidays. Here’s a look to what we can do.

You can reduce waste during the holidays. Thousands of shopping bags and Christmas trees end up in landfills each year. A way to reduce paper and plastic shopping bags from filling up our landfills is to simply ask store cashiers to not bag your small or oversized purchases or carry a reusable shopping bag with you. If you celebrate the holidays with a tree, get your parents to find a local solid waste department and see if they collect trees after the holiday. Some communities offer curbside pickup for trees. This is much better than sending it to the landfill.

When shopping, try to get your parents to buy home or office electronics that have the ENERGY STAR label on them. We learned that some electronics still use electricity when turned off. By replacing old items with ones that are energy efficient we can save over 25 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions which is good for the planet and our health too.

And lastly, cleaning up after the holidays can be a huge responsibility if not prepared. My family holiday meals require much more water than ordinary meals. While preparing food and washing dishes, we tend to run the water a lot. For every minute water runs, more than two gallons of water is used. However, this year we’ve came up with a way to reduce our water and energy usage. Take a look-

  • Instead of using water to rinse dishes before you put them in the dishwasher, scrape them clean.
  • If washing dishes by hand, fill the sink with a few gallons of soapy wash water, clean the dishes, and put them aside. Then rinse them all together afterward.

Sounds like a plan to me. Either of these practices can save up to 10 gallons of water.

Enjoy this holiday with the ones you love and don’t forget to do your part to help protect our environment. For additional information about winter tips to reduce waste and save energy, check out http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-winter.htm#reducewaste

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

18 Responses leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    December 2, 2008

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Susan

  2. Ashley-EPA permalink
    December 3, 2008

    Thanks Susan! That was very sweet. Please feel free to tell others about the blog. I would like to hear what others have to say about global climate change. For more information, please check out http://epa.gov/climatechange/

  3. Rebecca McLarty, CDM in Tampa, FL permalink
    December 3, 2008

    The past several years, my family and I have reused gift wrap. For the gifts we give each other and for packing fragile holiday decorations, we use the gift wrap that someone gave us. We don’t care if the wrapping paper is torn a bit or if the gift bag is a little wrinkled. A few years ago I saw bags and bags of trash curbside in my neighborhood on Christmas Day which really disturbed me. I decided to take a stand in helping to reduce the amount of waste my family creates.

    I’ve even been reusing gift bags/ tissue paper/ wrapping paper year-round for birthdays, wedding showers, and graduations. I look at this as a win-win-win situation.
    1. it cuts back on waste.
    2. it reminds me of the gift I received or am giving to someone special.
    3. it saves me money from having to buy more gift wrap and tissue paper.

  4. Lisa P permalink
    December 4, 2008

    Recycling and payday loans mean more green in my life and my wallet! I know Kermit said it’s not easy being green, but it definitely is. I can’t afford to buy a new refrigerator or hybrid car, but there are other easy and low cost things that I do on a regular basis to make my life green. I unplug all of my electronics when they’re not in use—including my TV. My electricity bill has dropped significantly. The most prominent green habit in my life is recycling. I recycle everything possible. I bring reusable bags to the grocery store. At home, I am extremely organized, so I love to separate everything out and create individual bins for each recyclable good. To make a little bit of extra cash, I take all my aluminum cans to the recycling station to redeem a certain amount of money per pound of aluminum. My husband drinks a lot of beer, and my kids drink a lot of soda, so it’s a win-win for the whole family. I found an article that talked about recycling cell phones, which is something I had never thought of before. I have a drawer full of old cell phones my family has used, and I am thrilled that I can finally get rid of them and make money doing it. Any extra cash I can get right now is fantastic. My budget is tight, and the holidays are on their way. Speaking of saving money, recycling, and the holidays, I can save money this year by using things around the house as gift-wrap. I have a huge container of spare fabric and ribbons and a whole stack of old shoe boxes in the attic, which will all be perfect for homemade gift boxes. Of course, these simple recycling tricks save me money, but sometimes the winter months bring bigger bills. The extra green from recycling won’t pay for my bills, but I know that payday loans can also add green to my budget.

  5. Ashley-EPA permalink
    December 8, 2008

    Rebecca, you’re absolutely right-reused gift wrap is a great way to reduce waste. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Ashley-EPA permalink
    December 8, 2008

    Lisa-excellent! I’m very impressed. I too would love to afford a hybrid car but I can’t. However, there are things I can do on a regular basis to make my life green at a lower cost. I think it’s a great idea to redeem a certain amount of money per pound of aluminum. It’s one way people gain incentive to recycle. It truly is a win-win situation. Thanks for your comment and nicely done.

  7. Online Shopping Now permalink
    March 6, 2009

    Bring along some diarrhea pills just in case your stomach doesnt agree with Thai food.. luckily for me… i had no problems… phew !

  8. C. Green permalink
    September 16, 2010

    Great read, It’s always great to see people going green to help the environment. I do hope that hybrids get cheaper so I may own one soon. It will be great to drive knowing I’m not poluting as much.

  9. Sandra permalink
    September 18, 2010

    Awesome post,

    As an added method how about when going out for the holiday shopping routine, doing more online shopping and going with gifts like gift certificates that can be emailed. Less consumer travel less wasted fuel(not to mention that it’s a great way to shop for that impossible to shop fpr person ;)

    Love the article by the way!

  10. Linda Sullivan permalink
    October 15, 2010

    I am going to get new washer and dryer set. The new energy star sets only use $6.00 in electricity a year! Because they help generate their own power as they as spinning. Brilliant!

  11. grosir gamis permalink
    November 19, 2010

    I agree with “As an added method how about when going out for the holiday shopping routine, doing more online shopping and going with gifts like gift certificates that can be emailed.”

  12. Jeffery Sharp permalink
    December 29, 2010

    The practices you refer to skipping the bag at check out, recycle a real Christmas tree and water conservation are all all standard practices at our house. Skipping the bag at check out is one of my pet practices year round.

    There is another one and that was, if decorating with lights like we do, use LEDs (light emitting diodes) versus incandescents lights. The energy savings are tremendous. On the electricity bill it cost pennies a day to run LEDs versus dollars a day, which in turn lowers the carbon footprint. LEDs also last longer and run cooler so the possibility of the LEDs burning down the dried tree is not an issue.

    Best Regards
    jeffery

  13. Fap Turbo review permalink
    February 18, 2011

    Great plans. But we need to be always environmentally aware not only during holiday season. You gave a good point Lisa with your comment.

  14. sekhar permalink
    July 11, 2011

    I found you Tuesday while doing an internet search for the keyword phrase “going green”. Thanks for some very helpful information. I have bookmarked your site and will visit again and recommend….

  15. dean permalink
    October 28, 2011

    Awesome post. It’s a good cause to help nature protecting!

  16. Dean Taylor permalink
    December 7, 2011

    The thing about recycling and giving it as a gift is you know that the person who made it remembers you so much that he gave so much time to do such things like that. It’s more appreciative to receive something like that. I know the feeling, because last Christmas my daughter gave me this cute angel for our Christmas tree. And she made that using papers. And she’s only 8 years old. But she’s already creative. Is it more wonderful to receive something that comes from their hearts? I’m a proud Mom i must say!

  17. Godswill Akpabio permalink
    January 22, 2012

    It’s been 3 years since this blog post and I still see tons of trash produced during the holiday seasons. When will it end?

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