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Ten Tips for a Greener Holiday

While the holidays bring joy and cheer for many, they can be a Grinch to the environment with tons of extra wrapping paper, megawatts of blinking lights, and many leftover Christmas trees.  With just a little planning, however, everything from gift-giving to decorating can be an act of conservation in addition to holiday celebration. Here are 10 tips to help you green your holidays:

  1. Light the Way 
    Set the example in your neighborhood by using “LED” (light emitting diode) holiday lights. These lights can use up to 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights, last for many hours longer, and can save on your energy bill. LED lights are available at many major retailers.

  2. Green your Plate
    Support the Charlottesville Area “Buy Fresh Buy Local” campaign by ensuring that the food you put on your plate is locally-grown and produced. Use this guide to find not only more delicious, but greener holiday food choices:

  3. Reduce, Reuse, Re-card
    Look for cards that contain recycled content or recycled materials. Alternatively, make your own cards out of scrap paper. Old cards can be used as name tags on gifts or for holiday decorations. Send holiday greetings to family and friends via e-mail.

  4. Sustainable Shopping
    Put your holiday gifts in a canvas bag that can be re-used and will save paper and plastic. If possible, walk or bicycle to shops near your home instead of driving. When choosing gifts, consider giving a green gift, such as a refillable thermos bottle, a canvas grocery bag, or a battery recharger.   

  5. Earth-friendly Party
    Everyone loves entertaining or being entertained at a holiday party, but remember to make recycling convenient and easy for the guests! Entertaining with dishes or glassware will save paper and plastic from having to be disposed of.  Also consider using low lights or candles to both save on energy and set a relaxing tone for your party.

  6. Tree-Cycle
    Check the County website soon for updates on where you can recycle your Christmas tree for free. The trees are chipped into mulch for public use.  Also consider looking for trees that are grown without the use of pesticides by a local organic grower.

  7. Cleaner Warmth
    Visit this EPA website on more efficient, cleaner burning fireplaces and woodstoves to get ideas on how you can stay warm and healthy by limiting the amount of smoke produced, both indoor and out:

  8. Green-gifting
    Honor your friends and family by donating to a cause that helps protect the planet in their name. They’ll appreciate the sentiment, and so will generations to come.

  9. Turn Over a Green Leaf
    New Years Resolutions are hard to stick with for a lot of folks, but resolving to add just one more green practice to your daily life in 2008 can make a huge difference.  Consider trying to use less water, switching all the bulbs in your house to compact fluorescent lamps, or carpooling to work.

  10. That’s a Wrap
    Get creative by substituting for conventional wrapping paper. Use home-made drawings by kids, a page from the Sunday comics, or even an old map. Keep ribbons and bows and use them over multiple holidays and occasions. If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper. And finally, consider avoiding using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes.

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