Thursday, December 08, 2016

Six Tips to Help You Stay Green During the Holiday Season

By Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
For The Hillsider

(Editor's note: We are having some difficulty with the formatting of the paragraphs, so please excuse that because this is good information.)

Soon many of us will be doing special activities related to Christmas and other holidays. Here is a list I put together to help you to be more efficient and environmentally-friendly. Remember sometimes it is hard to change old ways, baby-steps can make it easier. If you feel you can’t make all of these changes please just choose one. Baby steps taken over time add up.

1. Bring your own shopping bags

Bringing your own bags isn't just for grocery shopping. Reduce plastic waste and

hazards to animals who mistake plastic bags as food by using your bags for gift

shopping. I use a backpack or most of my shopping trips, and it works great. I can pack a lot of items in it, and it's a lot easier to carry. Many places ask you to check a backpack, but if you’re walking or taking the bus a backpack is easiest. If you’re driving and don’t use a backpack, remember your canvas or reusable bags.

2.  Reuse recycled/recyclable gift wrap


Wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and gift bags can be expensive and aren’t always
recyclable. I save old calendars, magazines, and comic sections of newspapers for gift
wrapping. Maps and posters work well, too, or you can decorate paper bags. You can
also save gift bags and bows from gifts you’ve received and use them next year.

3. Switch to LED lights
Stringing up lights for the holidays? Switch to LED lights. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), LED lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent holiday lights. LED lights also don’t run as hot, reducing the fire hazard (especially for Christmas trees), and can last up to ten times longer.

4. Switch to Rechargeable Batteries
According to the EPA more than 40 percent of all battery sales happen during the holiday season. Many of those batteries are alkaline batteries that can't be recycled. You can replace alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones. If you are giving gifts that require batteries consider giving rechargeable batteries and a battery charger along with the gift.

5. Host a zero waste party
Holiday parties don't have to mean lots of food and disposable dishware waste. Serve
food on reusable or compostable dishware. Check the thrift shops for holiday themed
dish sets or borrow dishes from friends. My Grandma has special Christmas plates that are fun to use during the holidays. If you don't like the thought of doing dishes at the end of the party ask friends to help. Also, have recycling containers labeled for guests, and if you live in the Duluth area you can collect food waste and drop it off at Western Lake Superior Sanitary District's (WLSSD) 27th Ave W location.

6. Decorate a Living Tree
Instead of buying a cut or artificial tree, consider having a living tree that can be planted in
the spring or keep as a houseplant. Two years ago I bought a potted Norfolk Pine from Whole Foods Co-Op to use as my Christmas tree. It worked well for my small apartment, and I’ve enjoyed having it as houseplant. I’m happy that I will be able to use it for a 3rd Christmas and not have to buy a new tree.

Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff

(Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff lives in Lincoln Park, has a degree in environmental science, teaches Zumba and is interested in health and wellness. Full disclosure: She is also the daughter of The Hillsider editor  Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff.)