How to Have a Green Holiday Without Environment Blues

By Kelsey Sollner

‘Tis better to give than to receive, but that doesn’t mean you should make the environment pay the price. Here are some tips I’ll be doing this holiday season to reduce waste, save energy and spend less money.

  • Before going gift shopping, I make a list of exactly what I need and plan my route so I will make as few stops as possible. A successful shopping trip is one where I can buy what I need all in one shot. This saves me time and gasoline.
  • We’re switching to decorative LED holiday lights in my household. They use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent lights. We also use a timer to automatically shut them off during daylight.
  • When hosting big holiday parties, I turn the thermostat down a few notches. As guests trickle in, the temperature becomes comfortable and not too stuffy.

Here are some more things you can do for a greener holiday:

  • Skip disposable flatware when entertaining. Use cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glasses and silverware.
  • Buy a live cut tree or a potted one you can plant after the ground thaws. Check with your local solid waste department about recycling trees after the holidays are over.
  • Instead of buying new rolls of wrapping paper, wrap presents in old posters, maps, calendars, sheet music, wallpaper scraps, reusable cloth bags, kids’ drawings or newspaper. Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates. If you must use wrapping paper, avoid foil and plastic-wrapped paper, as they are not recyclable.
  • Consider the durability and usefulness of a gift before you buy it. Cheaper items may wear out more quickly, making waste and costing you money.
  • Compost your food scraps whenever possible.
  • Consider using a digital camera instead of a disposable one. You will save money on film and reduce waste.

Incorporate these tips into your holiday routine and you can have a greener, cleaner home this season. Remember, spending time with loved ones is what the holidays are about, not material things. How will you make your holiday greener?

About the author: Kelsey Sollner is a senior from Susquehanna University majoring in journalism. She works as an intern in the EPA’s Office of Web Communications.