Even the most die-hard environmentalists can find it difficult to go the extra green mile during the holidays. There are so many gifts to find and non-green things to do! But don’t pout or shout. Just check out REC Solar’s 10 easy ways to be green for the holidays.
- Instead of cards, send e-vite holiday invitations. Although paper invitations are lovely, they add to the depletion of our forests. A quick and easy solution is to use an electronic invitation service, such as e-vite.com. Not only does it save trees, their designs can be very festive, plus help you keep track of RSVPs. Facebook has a similar free “events” app, as well.
- Use LED Christmas lights. Be a Scrooge with electricity. Buy super energy efficient LED Christmas lights. While more expensive than incandescent versions, their price keeps declining, and that includes indoor and outdoor Christmas strands. Plus, they last longer than incandescent bulbs, saving you time and frustration from replacing the bulbs every couple of years.
- Turn off Christmas lights during the day. Whatever type of lights you use, turn off the string during the day. With a flick of an off-switch, you’ll be saving energy and delighting passing neighbors when you turn the lights on again. Your kids will also enjoy their turn switching them on each evening for a holiday light show.
- Give low-waste experience gifts. Instead of driving around finding the perfect manufactured gift, take a few minutes and buy concert or movie tickets online. Or buy a membership to a museum or a season pass to a national park, zoo, or an aquarium. Experience gifts reduce manufacturing waste and landfills, plus they can provide lasting memories for the entire year.
- Choose gifts that encourage sustainability. Give rechargeable batteries with a battery-powered gift, and stuff stockings with refillable thermoses and water bottles. For those daily trips to Starbucks, save paper by giving friends travel or ceramic mugs. Choose mugs with a sealable lid, so the beverage will stay hot and won’t have to be reheated in the office microwave.
- Instead of presents, give your presence as a gift. Elderly friends and family have collected many things in their lives, but what they often want more than anything else is to spend more time with people they care about. Give a card with a commitment of a weekly or monthly appointment. Plus, it’s another experience gift that will be remembered way past the holidays.
- Recycle—or grow— that Christmas tree. If you have a live-cut Christmas tree, check with your local city for a drop-off tree recycling center. If you can’t find it, search “Christmas Trees” at Earth911.com. Another sustainable Christmas tree solution is to buy a potted tree that you can keep in your garden year round. Trim it for height throughout the year, and then bring it in once a year to decorate.
- Buy rechargeable batteries. According to the EPA, 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season, and many of these and subsequent battery purchases end up in landfills, adding toxic waste. Think long-term for the environment and save money too by buying rechargeable batteries. If you do use traditional batteries, search Earth911.com for an authorized disposal center in your area.
- Pick one shopping day. Rather than multiple trips, save time, money, gasoline, and CO2 emissions by going to your main shopping district on one day during the holiday season. Research gifts online and then plan your gift-buying trip close to your holiday, since stores will begin to discount undersold products by then. If possible, buy all of your gifts online for in-store pickup, saving you even more time.
- Be creative with old wrapping paper. If you thought ahead and recycled wrapping paper from last year’s gifts, good for you! If not, be creative and look for other inventive recycling ways to wrap gifts. For example, use the colorful Sunday comics sections from your local newspaper. Or take out pages from the toy section of the Yellow Pages book that you’re probably not using. For women’s gifts, try using pages from old fashion magazines that have already been read.
Of course, if you want to give the entire family a huge green holiday present, go solar with a solar lease for little to no money down. It’s a gift that will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint, plus save you thousands of dollars over 20 years.
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