holiday

Celebrating EPA’s Wheeling Office, 50 years of Pioneering Environmental Protection

Cross posted on EPA Connect, EPA’s leadership blog

By Shawn M. Garvin

In the midst of a season of many celebrations, I’m reminded of the rich environmental history we have in Region III as we get ready to celebrate another important occasion:  The 50th anniversary of our Wheeling, W. Va. Field Office.  As a pioneer of many environmental controls and methods, the Wheeling Field Office is one of the places where environmental protection began in this country.

Before the EPA was established in 1970, environmental protection was taking hold in various pockets across the nation, including in the Ohio River area.  During the late 1950s, the U. S. Public Health Service (U.S. PHS) collected extensive data on declining fish populations in the Ohio River and its tributaries, and concluded that there was a serious human health threat from rivers full of untreated sewage and castoff industrial chemicals.

To address this threat, the U.S. PHS, supported in large measure by the efforts of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, formed the Ohio River Basin Project and in 1963, the Wheeling Field Office opened as part of this project.  The office’s original goal was to evaluate water quality across 72,000 square miles in six states in the upper Ohio River valley.

In 1966, the Wheeling Field Office was assigned added responsibility under the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Federal Water Pollution Control Administration to determine water usage and to oversee water storage needs in reservoirs in response to water quality and extensive acid mine drainage problems.  In the late 1960s, the Wheeling Field Office recorded the most acidic rain ever documented in the United States.

In 1970, the Wheeling Field Office was incorporated into the newly formed EPA under the Mid-Atlantic Region.  Emphasizing inspections and enforcement, the office was instrumental in EPA’s early charge to help local governments and industry comply with new laws governing air and water pollution.

Until 1986, the Wheeling Field Office operated a chemistry laboratory and continues to run a freshwater biology laboratory, and engineering, inspection and enforcement sections, to keep up with the latest environmental challenges, including among others acid rain, municipal water pollution, fish kills, air emissions, oil spills, hazardous materials, and mountaintop mining. Operations in the office and lab space have continued since its early days, likely making the Wheeling Field Office the oldest functioning environmental facility in the same location in the nation.

Currently, Wheeling houses staff from eight EPA Region III programs who maintain the focus on collaboration with state governments to advance science and environmental compliance in the Mid-Atlantic Region.   Scientists, hazardous cleanup managers, inspectors, and other staff continue the fifty year legacy of protecting human health and the environment. Learn more about the Wheeling Field Office here.

So, as we enjoy all this holiday season brings, let’s also celebrate the Wheeling Field Office by looking back on the past 50 years of environmental advances and looking forward to the opportunities to continue pioneering environmental protection.

About the Author: Shawn M. Garvin is EPA’s Regional Administrator for Region 3, overseeing the Agency’s operations in Delaware, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Shawn’s career in intergovernmental affairs spans more than 20 years at the federal and local levels.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Be Green and Save Green this Holiday Season

blog Samantha Nevels

Samantha Nevels, CEA

By: Samantha Nevels

In a recent study, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their energy bill. The first step in cutting your bill is understanding your energy use. CEA has made this easy through an interactive consumer electronics energy calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. In just a few easy steps, the calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices based on what electronics you use and how often you use them. The calculator determines your energy cost per month and per year, and compares your energy use to that of the average U.S. household. It also provides some easy tips to save energy!

Here are some tips on how to be green during the holidays: 

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR: Electronics are a popular gift and now you can give a great present that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR  when shopping for electronics. The trusted blue label indicates energy efficient products that will save you money on your energy bill and help protect the planet.
  • Recycle your old Electronics: Whether you get or give electronics this holiday season, be sure to recycle the old one, allowing the valuable materials inside to be used again in new products and to save natural resources. Find an electronics recycling site near you at GreenerGadgets.org.
  • Read the Fine Print: Check your owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy conservation capabilities that your electronics may have.
  • Plug and Unplug: Plug electronic devices like televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes, and even your holiday lights into eco-friendly power strips. Also, unplug those holiday lights during the day!

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable world. Visit GreenerGadgets.org to learn more about how you can live green, buy green and recycle responsibly.

Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communication for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).  CEA is a consumer electronics authority on market research and forecasts, consumer surveys, legislative and regulatory news, engineering standards, training resources and more.  CEA works closely with EPA through the ENERGY STAR program, to promote greater adoption of ENERGY STAR certified consumer electronics.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas Decor

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

With Hanukkah and Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holidays are here, and for people across the country, the hunt for the perfect gift is on. For many, electronics are high on their list, with everything from the latest in TVs to tablets dominating their trips to the mall. Before you head out for Black Friday, be sure to check out ENERGY STAR’s Top Gift Picks for 2013. Looking for the trusted blue label on these products can help you save energy, save money and protect the environment from climate change—all while giving you the latest in innovation and technology.

ENERGY STAR’s Top Gift Picks for 2013

tv

Televisions: TVs are at the top of many holiday wish lists, and this year there are more reasons than ever to look for ENERGY STAR. Televisions that have earned the ENERGY STAR are on average more than 25% more energy efficient than conventional models, and come with all of the latest technology that you are looking for this holiday season. The label can be found on TVs of every size, with features like 3D, streaming capability, internet connectivity and both OLED and LED technology.

audio

Audio: Is your loved one asking for a soundbar or new speakers this year? According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), home audio sales are expected to grow at double-digit percentage rates this year. Make sure that you help your loved one save energy, save money and protect the environment by looking for audio equipment that has earned the ENERGY STAR. AV equipment that meets ENERGY STAR qualifications is up to 60% more efficient than conventional models.

Game Consoles: Gaming systems are always big sellers during the holidays. The best thing about this year’s models is their ability to go to sleep — just like your computer — entering a low power sleep mode when not in use for game play or streaming videos. This is an improvement that will reduce your energy use without reducing the excitement of video game play, and help your family save money long after the holidays are over.

Blu-Ray Players: According to the CEA, this year is expected to be the first in which Blu-Rays outsell DVD players. If this gift is on your list, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR. Certified Blu-Ray players are on average 45% more efficient than conventional models.

Computers: Does someone on your list want a new computer for the holidays? Look for the ENERGY STAR and help your loved one save energy and the environment every time they log on. An ENERGY STAR certified computer will use between 30-65 percent less energy than a standard model on average. Enable your computer’s power management feature and save up to $90 a year!

battery charger

ENERGY STAR Battery Chargers: You can also save energy on battery-powered tools and appliances. Products ranging from cordless drills to electric lawnmowers and shavers come with chargers that carry the ENERGY STAR. On average, ENERGY STAR certified battery chargers use about 30% less energy than conventional models.

LEDs

LED Light Bulbs: A perfect stocking stuffer, ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs deliver leading energy efficiency and can have a lifespan of over 20 years. A single light bulb that has earned the ENERGY STAR can save $95 in electricity costs over its lifetime.

Saving energy with ENERGY STAR certified home entertainment products helps protect the climate. If each TV, DVD player, and home theatre system purchased in the U.S. this year earned the ENERGY STAR, we would prevent more than 2.2 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year, equal to the emissions from more than 200,000 cars.

Get the latest in consumer electronics trends in the brand new podcast “Plugged in with ENERGY STAR.” Let experts from ENERGY STAR, the Consumer Electronics Association and more show you how easy it is to make energy efficient buying decisions this year. Check it out here.

light strings

Last, but not least, don’t forget to look for ENERGY STAR certified decorative light strings this holiday season. They use 65% less energy than conventional models and can last up to 10 times longer.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the ENERGY STAR communications team. Her favorite holiday activities include Christmas shopping, tree trimming and tryptophan-induced dinners. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Take a Dive into Energy Efficiency

Pool Pump

Pool Pump

Chris Kent

Chris Kent, EPA

By: Chris Kent

Families across the country celebrated the Fourth of July with barbeques, trips to the beach and lots of fun in the sun. But if your holiday plans involved inviting everyone out to your pool, you will be happy to know there’s an easy new way to save energy, save money and help prevent climate change. Choose a pool pump with the ENERGY STAR label.

The principle function of a pool pump is to re-circulate water through a filter to maintain water clarity and hygiene.  But what many pool-owners don’t realize is how much energy is wasted.  According to the Department of Energy, a pool pump typically uses 1,500 kWh/year. That makes it the number one energy consuming device in a home with a pool, often accounting for up to 20 percent of the energy a home uses.  There are approximately 5.4 million U.S. households with in-ground pools and the number is growing.  Even with all the other energy consuming components such as lights, cleaners, and heaters, the primary pool pump (which is found in every pool) is responsible for the majority of a pool’s energy consumption. Several studies show that the most immediate and impactful energy savings measure for a pool is replacing the commonly used single speed pump with a two-speed, multi-speed, or variable speed pumps – these are the ones eligible for the ENERGY STAR.

The reason ENERGY STAR certified, multi-speed pumps save energy is simple. Different pool operations require different pump speeds.  An ENERGY STAR certified pump can run at different speeds and be programmed to match the pool operation with an appropriate pump speed.  For example, filtration requires only one-half the flow rate of other pool functions, such as running cleaners. Conventional pool pumps operate at the same speed regardless of whether you are cleaning or just running the filter, so they waste a lot of energy during filtration by running faster than necessary. The reduction in energy use by switching to an ENERGY STAR certified pump is considerable; a reduction in pump speed of one-half allows the pump to use just one-eighth as much energy.

Households who replace older, inefficient pool pumps with ENERGY STAR products can achieve significant savings on operating costs and are often eligible for a rebate from their local utility program.  On average, they use 30- 52% less energy than standard models, depending on the pump motor design (i.e., two speed, variable speed/flow, etc) which translates to about $160 per year less in energy costs.  If you live in a warmer climate, your savings could be even higher.  Check with your local utility, as many are offering hundreds of dollars in incentives for ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps.

For a list of certified pool pumps visit the ENERGY STAR web site.  Work with your local pool professional or contractor to select the appropriate sized ENERGY STAR certified pump.  If you don’t own a pool, we have great tips available for every budget here. Take a dive into ENERGY STAR this summer. And don’t forget about sun safety – EPA’s SunWise program has lots of wonderful information to keep you safe in the sun on our web site.

Christopher Kent has been an Environmental Protection Specialist at the US EPA since 1995.  He is develops and manages a variety of product specifications for the ENERGY STAR program, including pool pumps.  

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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My Independence Day Musing

By Dave Deegan

This week we celebrate one of my favorite holidays – Independence Day, the Fourth of July. Even now, decades after I left school for good and have been in the workforce, this early summer holiday continues to hold strong associations and memories of the thrill I once felt knowing that the whole summer was waiting ahead of me with fun activities like swimming, camping, baseball games, picnics, long days and lingering twilight.  Great, relaxing times with family and friends, and sometimes a welcome trip to the beach or a mountain lake.

Nowadays, celebrating our nation’s founding on Independence Day has far deeper meaning than the pleasure of a picnic or watching a jaw-dropping fireworks display. I always am grateful for the freedom we enjoy in the US: freedoms to read and write and debate, the liberty to live where and how we choose and the promise to define one’s own life work.

Picture of a flag on a bridge over water.

Of course, we all accept that our personal freedom has limits, either for other people’s good or for the community as a whole. When it comes to the environment, we all live both upstream as well as downstream.  My actions can impact you, just as yours can impact me.  As someone who cares a lot about EPA’s mission – to protect human health and the environment – I am always aware of the trade-off required when it comes down to EPA enforcing the laws to keep harmful pollution from the water, air or land.

What is ironic in all of this is that so much of what makes our collective independence so precious actually depends so much on our collective interdependence.  Our will and willingness to be good neighbors to each other often goes hand-in-hand with being good stewards of our environment.

So here’s to a great Fourth, to enjoying some potato salad, a burger, a small-town parade and a marching band playing the patriotic classics.  And maybe a few thoughts to how good it is to breathe clean air, to enjoy fresh healthy water and to dig a garden in good soil.

About the author: Dave Deegan works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. When he’s not digging rocks out of his garden, he loves being outdoors in one of New England’s many special places.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Making Dad Energy Efficient This Father’s Day

Brian Herberger

Brian Herberger

By Brian Herberger

When my wife gave me my lawnmower for Father’s Day last year, I immediately thought “thanks darling, here’s your vacuum.”  But in an effort to preserve marital accord, I decided not to rush to judgment.  After all, the box boasted the cyan blue ENERGY STAR mark—the U.S. EPA run program that my wife has devoted a significant part of her career promoting. In short, my wife knows her stuff.

While the lawnmower itself wasn’t labeled, the box said it was “Powered by an ENERGY STAR battery charging system.”  You got it—a cordless electric mower.  Mine has a 36 Volt system, which for my 5000 square foot lot means I need to charge it about every third mowing. No need to run to the gas station to fill up the canister. And perhaps because the mower isn’t full of liquid, it is very easy to push.

Did I mention that I love the way it starts? You simply turn a switch and pull back the safety bar mounted on the handle.  Gone are the days of incessant yanking on a pull cord and all of the gas and exhaust fumes. I am a convert.

Honey if you’re reading this, I noticed there are a host of power tools that also have ENERGY STAR battery chargers.  I’ve got my eye on a variable speed, compact drill with a built-in LED light.

About the author: Brian Herberger is a technology specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) and a father of two. In his spare time he enjoys landscaping and carpentry. His wife works for the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Bright Idea for 2013? ENERGY STAR Certified Lighting!

By: Monique O’Grady, the Alliance to Save Energy

When we popped open the corks at the stroke of midnight at our house to welcome 2013, we did it under ENERGY STAR certified lighting: CFLs in the recessed fixtures, LEDs in the pendants, and LED holiday lights on the mantle.

Watching the iconic ball drop over Times Square on TV is a New Year’s Eve tradition at the O’Grady’s that was made even more special a year ago when I had an opportunity to look at the energy-saving wonder up close. I accompanied the President of the Alliance to Save Energy, Kateri Callahan, and Philips Lighting’s Ed Crawford, as they were interviewed about the 32,000 LEDs in the world-famous ball and the benefits of switching to energy-saving lighting.  The cutting-edge technology shone brightly under pristine crystal, while saving about 80% of the energy used by the original globe’s incandescents. The result? The 12-foot globe that now ushers in the New Year with a colorful light show uses only the energy of two wall ovens.

But you don’t have to be in Times Square during the extravaganza that rings in the New Year to know that saving energy can also work on a smaller scale.

Buying Bulbs, Saving for Our Future
This year’s holiday electric bill will probably be a belated gift.  This Department of Energy stat shows why: the estimated electricity cost to light a 6-foot tree with C-9 incandescent light strands  will add $10.00 to an energy bill during a 40-day holiday season. But, by using C-9 LED strands, the cost is just 27 cents.  I used three LED strands on my tree, but I also changed out an additional seven strands for other decorating needs. That should make a noticeable difference.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if every decorative light string purchased in the United States this year earned the ENERGY STAR, we would:

  • Prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions from about 80,000 cars.
  • Save more than 600 million kWh of electricity.
  • Save about $65 million in annual energy costs.

A recent estimate by the Department of Energy shows that by 2030, the energy savings from increased use of LED lights will reach $30 billion a year. In 2013 we expect to see more LED options on the market and prices continuing to drop.  And 2013 also promises some of the first 100-watt LED equivalents – another gift that keeps on giving!  Look for the ENERGY STAR on these bulbs to ensure they have passed all the rigorous tests required by the EPA’s strict ENERGY STAR requirements.

Initially these 100-watt LED equivalents will be pricy — about $50 a bulb — but one manufacturer estimates each bulb will save $220 in energy costs over its 25,000-hour lifespan (or more than 20 years).  If you want to learn more about energy-saving light bulbs go to ENERGYSTAR.gov. You can also check the Alliance to Save Energy YouTube series for ways to be energy efficient all year long. Here is your first tip–start by looking for the ENERGY STAR label!

Monique O’Grady is the Vice President of Communications for the Alliance to Save Energy and helps chair the mass media subcommittee of the LUMEN Coalition, an ad-hoc group of organizations and professionals united to educate consumers about energy-efficient lighting choices. Monique also hosts an Alliance to Save Energy video series on energy efficiency tips, including six videos on energy-efficient lighting.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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This Holiday Season, it Pays to be Power-Wise

Holiday Gift

By Samantha Nevels, CEA

Looking for new ways to save money on your energy bill? You’re not alone. A consumer survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their electricity bills. The good news is that consumer electronics products account for only 12 to 15 percent of an average home’s energy use.  Nevertheless, every little bit of unused energy saves you money and reduces energy demand.

The first step in cutting energy costs is understanding your energy usage. CEA has made this easy through a new, interactive Consumer Electronics Energy Calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. With a few simple steps, this calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices. All you have to do is select which electronics devices you own and estimate how many hours per day you use them. The calculator will then determine your energy cost per month and per year, and compare your energy use to that of the average U.S. household.

Below are a few quick and easy tips that will make a difference this holiday season:

  • Give the gift that gives back. Electronics are a popular gift for the holidays, and now you can give a great gift that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR if you are purchasing electronics this holiday season. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program recognizes energy efficient products that will save you money on your electricity bill and help protect the climate.  You can find more information on ENERGY STAR certified products at www.energystar.gov.

 

  • New electronics gift? Recycle the old one. Whether you get or give an electronics gift, be sure to reuse or recycle the old one, enabling the valuable materials to be used again in new products while helping to save natural resources. Check out EPA’s e-Cycling guidance for more information. CEA also offers a  recycling site locator at GreenerGadgets.org.

 

  • Pay attention to the plug. Plug electronic devices, such as televisions, DVD players, game consoles and audio systems, into eco-friendly power strips, or unplug devices altogether when they are not in use.
  • Read the fine print. Check your electronics owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy-conservation capabilities that your devices may have.

 

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable environment.

About the Author: Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communications for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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All I Want for Christmas is…Some Water Saving Tips

By Christina Catanese

This weekend was one of major holiday prep for me.  I did laundry.  I cleaned the house.  I baked.  I washed dishes.  I cooked.  I washed more dishes.  I did some holiday arts and crafts.  I had some friends over for dinner.  I washed even more dishes.  I did even more laundry washing the towels and sheets used by early holiday guests that had come and gone.  Around the third round of washing dishes (incidentally, my least favorite household task), I realized that most of the things I was doing involved using a whole lot of water.

‘Tis the season to be doing a lot of entertaining, and that can involve more water use than usual.  Here are some tips for conserving water and energy this holiday season:

While you’re eating:The dishes never end!

  • Don’t run the tap when washing dishes.  Plugging the drain, filling the sink with soapy water, and scrubbing and rinsing from there can reduce how much water you use cleaning all those holiday pots, pans, and dishes.
  • Most dishwashers will clean your plates just fine if you just scrape off food scraps and put them right in the dishwasher. So you don’t need to double down on your water use by rinsing dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Speaking of food scraps, food waste tends to spike in the holiday season.  This impacts our water resources indirectly – all the water and resources put into the growing, manufacturing, and selling of our food goes to waste if the food ends up in a landfill.  Learn more about how you can reduce food waste.  You can also add certain food scraps to a compost pile if you have one instead of using a garbage disposal, which uses water and adds the mashed up food to the wastewater stream to be treated.
  • To reduce the number of loads of dishes you have to do, make sure that your dishwasher is fully loaded every time you run it.  Use the water saving settings if your appliance has them.
  • Save water and the energy used by your hot water heater by thawing foods in the microwave or overnight in the fridge, instead of running hot water over them.
  • The amount of water wasted while you let it run until it’s cool can really add up.  To have nice cool water for your holiday meals, fill a pitcher with water a few hours before and store it in the fridge until dinner time.

While you’re cleaning:

  • Save water (and make that pile of laundry disappear a little faster) by only washing and drying full loads every time, and using the appropriate setting on your machine to the size of the load you’re washing.
  • Using cold water whenever possible can reduce the energy needed to wash your clothes, as well as your energy bills.

Happy Holidays!While you’re shopping:

  • If you’re anything like me, you’re doing some last-minute, crazed holiday shopping and could use some inspiration for gift ideas.  Water-efficient appliances can make great gifts!  Faucet aerators are small and reasonably priced – perfect for a stocking stuffer!  Water-efficient showerheads, too.
  • A rain barrel could also be a great gift to help your loved ones conserve water during the summer months, although you’ll need a pretty big stocking for that one, and it might not fit down the chimney.
  • Looking for a bigger ticket item and long-term investment?  Check out Water Sense for efficient toilets and other appliances, and Energy Star for efficient washing machines and dishwashers.

How are you saving water this holiday season?  Tell us in the comments section.

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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