Green up with eco-friendly choices

12/13/2013, 6 a.m.

Environmentally conscious families and individuals can green up this holiday season to save energy and resources and help protect the environment when shopping, traveling, sending cards, decorating and giving gifts.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these eco-friendly tips:

Decorate with items that are energy-efficient and durable.

  • Buy an artificial tree that you can use for years to come or select a living tree that you can plant outside after the holidays.
  • Recycle natural trees at a chipping facility or return to the environment in other eco-friendly ways.
  • Use few or no lights in your holiday decorations. Decorate with more energy-efficient LED – light-emitting diodes – strings.
  • Use a timer on your lighted decorations to save electricity.
  • Use natural materials from your yard or items you already own.
  • Choose durable ornaments from wood, metal or cloth rather than plastic or thin glass.
  • Use fewer resources when you shop, give presents and wrap gifts.
  • Take your own bags on shopping trips. Keep them in the car so they’re ready whenever you stop at a store.
  • Shop online.
  • Use public transit when you shop. If you have to drive, combine several errands in one trip or carpool with family and friends.
  • Give gifts that are durable, energy-efficient, recyclable or made of natural products.
  • Buy from local shops and craft shows or from companies that use fair-trade practices.
  • Search antique and secondhand stores for unique gifts.
  • Make your own gifts: Knit, sew, bake or create art from reused items.
  • Make calendars using your own photographs or make a recipe book with your favorite recipes.
  • Give a membership or an experience – tuition for a class or a visit to museum.
  • Give of your time – coupons for providing a meal, planting a garden, cleaning, or using another talent or skill.
  • Plant a tree in someone’s yard.
  • Be creative with gift wrap: Use scarves, fabric, handkerchiefs, old maps, sheet music, advertisements, reusable tins, usable baking pans or other home or garden items.
  • Give cards that are eco-friendly and save resources.
  • Make your own cards.
  • Buy cards made from recycled paper (look for “post-consumer” content) and printed in non-toxic inks.
  • Choose cards printed on white stock without metallic or plastic coatings.
  • Substitute postcards that require envelopes.
  • Reuse the fronts of old holiday cards as gift tags.
  • Eat sustainable food and avoid disposable containers and extra packaging.
  • Buy locally if possible.
  • Buy snacks and beverages in bulk to avoid extra packaging.
  • Serve food with washable utensils, plates and glasses rather than disposable items.
  • Make homemade eggnog, hot chocolate or iced tea in large quantities, and prepare pitchers of ice water in advance to reduce waste from water and soda bottles or cans.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/features/greenholidays.