Want to celebrate a greener holiday season this year? Are your kids clamoring for the three "Rs": Reduce, Reuse and Recycle? Here are 10 tips the Committee for the Environment in Mamaroneck put together for Patch.
1. Make your own wrapping paper using old newspapers, maps, paper bags, leftover wallpaper, children's drawings, old greeting cards, reusable gift bags, and 100 percent recycled paper. This can be a fun project to do with children, who will learn about waste reduction in the process. Also, try not to use too much tape. (If you do, make sure to take it off before recycling the wrapping paper.)
2. Buy only energy-saving holiday lights especially for the outside. FSEC's measurements of holiday lighting energy use show an average increase in lighting use of 4.4 kWh per day for holiday lighting (on average, about $13 per 30-day holiday season). Another important way to cut down on this is to make sure your lights are on a timer that shuts them off rather than burning all through the night.
3. Choose decorations which can be stored as keepsakes and reused.
4. Send holiday greetings to your friends and family via email or use holiday cards printed on recycled paper. Eliminate envelope waste by sending postcards.
5. Get a pesticide-free tree or choose a Christmas tree with roots. If you don't want to plant it in your garden, you can try to give it to a local organic farm. Recycle trees without roots (earth911.com).
6. Give a gift that gives back—give to a charity in the receiver's name, or, instead of material gifts, treat people to a special experience such as theatre tickets, gift certificates for restaurants, movies, an annual membership, a weekend at a spa, etc...
7. When shopping for gifts and holiday food, carry your own canvas bag, or reuse shopping bags—don't accept bags that you don't need.
8. Send holiday gifts with eco-friendly materials (no polystyrene peanuts or bubble wrap! Instead use old crumpled newspapers or magazines), and look for items with minimal packaging.
9. Add organic and local foods to your holiday feast. Buy loose rather than pre-packed vegetables. Plan the menu. The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy.
10. For your holiday parties, use reusable glass or plasticware, and cloth napkins. It's much more stylish anyway.
Following these tips will help to lessen the impact of the holidays on both the earth and your pocketbook. For more information on how to be greener, visit the village's committee at www.mamaroneckgreen.org.