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Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

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Greening the Season

National Resduce, Recycle, Reuse Website

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Go Green for the Holidays (and other Winter Tips)

EARTH911.org Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

Greening the Season

As we celebrate, decorate, give gifts and travel this holiday season, we also generate a lot of waste and increase our energy use.  The volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about 1 million extra tons.

There are many simple ways to “green” your holiday season by reducing, recycling, and reusing.  You can also minimize your impacts on climate change.  It takes only a small commitment to protect the environment. 



Give Creatively

Give gifts that require little or no packaging, such as the gift of your time (cooking, babysitting, or gardening), a charitable donation, or tickets to an event.  Or for those who have it all, under EPA’s Acid Rain program and NOx Budget Trading Program you can purchase an SO2 or NOx allowances to mitigate acid rain. You can also purchase renewable energy certificates. For more information see EPA’s Green Power Partnership.

Use Energy-Efficient Lighting

When decorating, use Energy Star energy efficient lighting such as LED outdoor holiday lights, which require 1/50th of the electricity of conventional lights and last 20-30 years.  Put lights on a timer or turn them on only when someone’s home.

Take Public Transportation

graphic of electric trainWhen traveling during the holidays consider taking public transportation, carpooling with friends or relatives, and combining several errands into one trip.

Reduce Shopping Bags

When going shopping, bring reusable cloth bags or tell store clerks you don’t need a bag for small or oversized purchases.  Or combine your purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at each store.  Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year.

More About Reducing


Eat Sustainable Food

graphic of a roast turkeyPlanning a holiday feast?  Think organic veggies, fruits, meat or sustainable seafood.  Consider giving a membership to your local community supported agriculture (CSA) program, which provides locally-grown produce year-round.  At the end of the meal, remember to compost and recycle.

Use Reusable Dishware

graphic of recycling canAvoid using disposable dishes and utensils when entertaining friends and family, and if you must use them, buy them made from recycled or compostable material.  Remember to place easily identifiable recycling and compost containers at your celebration so guests can recycle soda cans, bottles, and paper products, and compost food scraps.

Look for Recycled Content

When sending or giving cards or stationary, look for paper with the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Or make your own cards from paper you'd throw away.

More About Recycling


Reuse Gift Wrapping

Use cool wrapping materials.  Reuse maps, the Sunday comics, and posters.  Wrap gifts without a box.  And remember to save ribbons, bows and bags to reuse next year.

Replant, Compost, or Mulch Your Tree

palm treeIf you want to celebrate with a tree, consider a tree that can be replanted later.  If you celebrated with a cut tree, after the holidays, look for ways to compost your tree instead of sending it to a landfill.  Check with your community solid waste department to find out if a tree composting program exists in your area.  Programs like these collect and mulch trees, which can then be used as compost or landscaping material.

More About Reusing

There are many simple steps you can take to reduce your energy use and the amount of waste generated during this time of year.  However, most importantly -- living energy efficiently, and reducing, reusing and recycling are not just for the holiday season.  Continue your green habits and keep giving gifts to the earth all year long.

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