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NEIA’s Tips for Having a Green Christmas

Though we all love this time of year, there are many stresses during the Holiday Season and the environment would agree. It is a season of giving and celebrating, but it is also a season of increased waste and pressure on our resources. Here are some easy tips we here at the NEIA office have collected to help you help the environment this Christmas.

Your Tree

Use a Real Tree
Though plastic trees can be used from year to year, in reality the real McCoy is the sustainable choice. Plastic trees have to be manufactured and shipped, and are typically discarded to landfills when repeated use makes them less attractive. Living trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource that grow naturally and contribute to air quality while doing so.

Recycle Your Tree
Real Christmas trees have another use after they leave your home – they are a useful material for composting. Composting requires a carbon source and Christmas trees are just right for municipal operations which use chippers to shred the material. Look for tree drop-off locations in your neighborhood.

Your Parties

Buy Local
A significant source of the environmental impact caused by over the season is the number of large holiday dinners that place. You can decrease the carbon footprint of your meals, support the local economy, and eat healthier by planning as much of your meals around local sources as you can.

Avoid Disposables
Though disposable cups, plates and cutlery can make life easier, they are bombarding our landfills with waste that isn’t really necessary. Commit to washing your dishes, and if you’re short borrow extra items from friends if necessary

Leftovers Have Value!
Your leftovers don’t have to be thrown into the garbage; your guests may have quite enjoyed your meal and so you might consider giving them some to take home. If you still have leftovers, this may be the perfect opportunity to begin composting.

Clean Green
When all of your guests have gone, clean up with safer, less-toxic cleaning products. Switching to non-toxic, all natural products (like your grandmother cleaned with!) is a simple way to be green and clean and protect your health.

Your Home

Keep an Eye on Your Heat
Paying more attention to the heating in your home can not only help you save on your bills, but also reduce the amount of pollution you generate. Turn back the heat at night and when you’re away. Keep your curtains closed. Turn your thermostat down by one degree when you’re expecting company. You may be surprised how much impact these simple actions can have.

Defrost your Freezer
When ice builds up in your freezer, it actually has to use more electricity. Before the holidays defrost your freezer and it will (a) work more efficiently; and (b) create more space to store leftover food.

Use LED Lights in Decorating
Whether it be in your home, on your tree, or on the roof, use LED lights. You can now find them in every shape, size and color imaginable and they use about 33% less energy than traditional incandescent lights.

Give Unused Items Away
When prepping for the season, purging after an influx of new gear, or disposing of unwanted gifts, avoid cluttering the landfill and instead donate your items to a local charity.

Your Shopping

Keep a Re-Useable Bag
How many stops are you going to be making into supermarkets and corner stores over the next few weeks? Keep a re-usable shopping bag in your car and avoid the countless plastic bags you would otherwise use.

Give the Gift of Experience
Gifts that are ‘experiences’ such as memberships, movie tickets, gift certificates, iTunes, and eBooks, as opposed to physical goods, will help you reduce your footprint this holidays.

Think About how you Wrap
Wrapping paper for presents contributes significantly to waste during the holiday season. Wrap gifts with recyclable brown paper, newspaper, or flyers. Reuse gift wrap from previous years. Save gift wrap and ribbons and bows this year.

Consider Alternatives to Greeting Cards
Millions and millions of cards are sold each Christmas. This means millions of envelopes and millions of stamps, and the costs associated with shipping as well. That’s a lot of paper and a lot of weight to transport around the continent. Consider an email greeting or a more personal way to say ‘Merry Christmas’ – with a phone call!

Don’t Idle Your Car
Though it feels natural to keep your car on while waiting for a few minutes, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than it takes to restart your vehicle. Turn off your engine and reduce the pollutants you’re putting into the air.

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