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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: December 13, 2011

Do you find yourself rushing to buy gifts, get decorations up and bake cookies while still trying to put dinner on the table, clean house and get the kids to school on time? Amid the rush, it's still possible to have a green holiday that cuts down on holiday waste and sends your kids the right signal about living sustainably. Making just one small change this holiday season could make a big difference to the planet.

Consider, for example, the use of batteries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season, so buying rechargeable batteries to go with electronic gifts could dramatically reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown into landfills. Since you won't need to buy batteries if you use rechargeable ones, you'll also save in the long run. I scoured the Web for doable ways to go green, and here are a few ideas I found, including some from the EPA.

Tips for Going Green This Christmas

  • Buy a Christmas tree you can replant.
  • Buy cards that have been made from recycled paper or from sustainable forests, and instead of throwing out old cards, recycle them.  Or send e-cards.
  • Use recycled wrapping paper or buy gift bags that can be used over and over.  Save your holiday ribbons and bows from year to year.
  • Offer baked goods as gifts rather than buying something new, and when you deliver them, give them away in reusable containers. Carolina Parent asked local chefs' to share their favorite family holiday recipes, so try these Triangle-area recipes if you're looking to giveaway homemade delights.
  • When buying electronic gifts to replace items in your home, make sure you dispose of old electronic components and batteries so they don't harm the environment.
  • When buying gifts, check the product labels to see if the item can be recycled and if is made from recycled materials
  • Sometimes less is more. Try cutting back on your Christmas lighting. Four candles in your windows often can be more appealing than a house ablaze with lights. Consider how energy might be better spent. Switching to energy efficient LED lights, can save you on energy costs, as well.
  • Don't forget to turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. You'll save energy and help your lights to last longer.
  • Don't buy more food than you can eat, and use leftover vegetables to make soup after the holiday. If you have extra, share by donating it to a local charity or soup kitchen.


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