Think About the Environment this Holiday Season: Holiday tips from EPA’s Regional Administrator

By Judith Enck 

When I was a kid, growing up in Greene County New York, my beloved father won contests for the large number of lights that he put on our house. I would note that entire power plants had to run in order to keep the Enck family house illuminated, so I’m now doing my penance with LED lights. There really is no excuse to double your electric bill or blow your budget around the holidays, so here are my tips for a more environmentally friendly season.

  • Remember to support local businesses whenever possible

    Holiday themed LED lights are a great compromise

  • Consider a small live indoor tree or plant that can serve as a holiday tree to be decorated year after year.
  • If you opt for a real tree, be sure to compost it after the season is over.
  • Decorate with LED lights and colorful reusable ornaments that don’t require electricity such as (reusable) ribbons.
  • Reuse wrapping paper or use old comics to wrap gifts.
  • Start a new card tradition. My friend, Laurie Valeriano and I send the same holiday card back and forth to each other. We read old messages we wrote over the years and they are great memories.
  • Try not to buy unnecessary consumer products. Give experiences instead like tickets to plays or concerts as a way to spend time together.
  • When purchasing gifts, I try to select things that are useful, fun and environmentally sound. This year, several people on my list will be getting seltzer makers so they don’t even have to recycle bottles any more, they can just reuse the same ones.
  • More tips here.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Best wishes for a wonderful and sustainable holiday season and a very green new year!

About the author: Judith Enck is EPA’s Regional Administrator of and a native New Yorker who currently resides in Brooklyn.