1. Use LED Holiday Lights
LED lights can last up to 10 times longer, use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent holiday lights and are ENERGY STAR qualified. They are also more durable and shock resistant than other lights because they do not have moving parts, filaments or glass. Find them at your local hardware store, and don’t forget to recycle your old lights!
2. BYOB(ag) & Skip the Other Fluff
It’s basic, but it’s easy and important. The key to bringing your own bag is to not forget them, and bags that stuff into little pouches are great for that. Also, say “no thanks” to all the tissue paper, ribbons and stickers that retailers so often include with your purchase, especially around the holidays.
3. Re-charge it!
Every year more than 15 billion batteries are produced and sold worldwide, and many are alkaline batteries that are thrown out after just one use because they aren’t recyclable. Replace your alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones. Newer models can charge in as little as 15 minutes! It saves you money and helps the environment at the same time.
4. Make Your Gatherings Zero Waste
Instead of disposable tableware, serve food on real, reusable dishware. Borrow dish sets and utensils from friends, or go thrift store shopping for a special holiday set. Decorate the table with gourds and squash, bowls full of apples, or other seasonal fruits and veggies. Prevent food waste: Ask friends to bring containers for leftovers.
5. Stop Junk Mail
With the holidays come unwanted catalogs and other mail asking you to buy, buy, buy – but you can stop them with 6 easy steps to help you get off and STAY off mailing lists. One quick tip: As soon as you receive an unwanted publication, call the 1-800 number located somewhere on the piece and ask to be removed from the mailing list to prevent any future mailings. Learn more tricks at www.ecocycle.org/junkmail.
6. Wrap it & Pack it Eco-Style
While we accept wrapping paper for recycling for a limited time, we encourage you to avoid it, as its high-clay and low-paper content makes it difficult to recycle. Instead, get creative and choose a reused/reusable alternative like comics, posters, maps, blueprints or calendars (all recyclable), fabric, reusable paper or cloth gift bags, bandanas, etc. For shipping, replace foam or bubble wrap with balled-up newspaper or magazine pages.
7. Choose Recyclable and Recycled Holiday Cards
Make sure your holiday cards can easily be recycled by choosing cards without any non-paper embellishments like foil or ribbon, and look for cards that contain post-consumer recycled content. Or, give the trees a break this holiday season by using e-cards from websites like www.care2.com, www.jacquielawson.com or www.evite.com.
8. Try an Alternative to Cut Trees
Instead of cutting down a tree, decorate a favorite houseplant or buy a live tree that can be planted in the spring. If you do opt for a cut tree, you can have it turned into mulch through city-sponsored programs (see our Holiday Recycling Guide).
9. Prevent Food Waste
Roughly 40% of all the food grown in the U.S. is thrown away. Prevent waste with careful planning: This “Guest-imator” tool can help: savethefood.com/guestimator. Stick to your shopping list. If there are leftovers, encourage guests to take them home in reusable containers and freeze the rest for an easy meal on another day.
10. Go for Eco-Deco
When planning a party, avoid streamers, balloons and other decorations designed for one-time use. Create centerpieces from what you have, like pottery pieces, glass ornament balls, fresh fruit, pine cones, squash, gourds and fallen leaves. Buy local, organically-grown flowers, widely available in Boulder County, or choose potted plants to provide a year-round green.