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Make Your Holidays Green and Bright!
Don’t wait until the new year to make your “green” resolutions. UMB Go Green has compiled a list of simple steps you can take to make your holidays more environmentally friendly.
Reduce Your Waste and Reuse
Did you know? Waste disposal in the United States increases by 25 percent during the holiday season. That’s about 1 extra tons of waste (EPA). Reduce your waste: recycle, upcycle, and/or reuse.
- Use reusable shopping bags.
- Recycle batteries or use rechargeable alternatives.
- Reuse old wrapping paper and other packaging material. Want to learn how to make your own handmade recycled bows using old calendars and magazines? Check it out!
- Decorate with natural materials such as evergreen boughs or seasonal plants such as poinsettias. Learn how to make a holiday wreath out of old books. Click here.
- Send e-cards. Almost 2.65 billion holiday cards are sold in the United States every year. Cut down on carbon emissions and paper by going electronic. You also can look for cards printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink.
- Recycle! Styrofoam makes up 25 percent of waste in landfills and does not break down. When incinerated (as in Baltimore), Styrofoam releases more than 90 different toxins into the environment. Reuse Styrofoam for packaging and shipping or drop off at your local recycling center.
Purchase Green Gifts
- Shop at and support locally owned stores to cut down on the energy it takes to process, package, and ship items.
- Give the gift of giving. Volunteer your time or make a donation to a favorite cause.
- Shop for holiday gifts that don’t require batteries. Batteries leak toxic metals into soil and groundwater when dumped in landfills.
- Avoid toys made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. PVC is a known carcinogen, is sometimes mixed with lead and cadmium during production, and is the least recycled plastic.
- Use LED holiday lights. For the light bulb breakdown, click here.
- Use a timer for your holiday lights
- Offset your carbon emissions from planned holiday travel. For more information, visit TerraPass.
Choose a “Real” Tree
Did you know? Eighty-three percent of U.S. households will use fake trees this holiday season, and 85 percent of those fake trees are shipped from China. Fake trees are made from PVC, which is derived from petroleum. A huge amount of electricity is used to melt the plastic. Fake trees also can leak lead as they age.
Choose a live tree this season. Most live trees come from tree farms. Not only do they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but, once they’re cut, they are often replaced by two or three new trees. Moreover, every part of your live tree can be reused once the holidays are over. Boughs can be cut and used as protective covering for shrubs. Whole trees can be chipped and composted. Don’t forget to buy your tree from a local farm.
— Tracy Gnadinger