A Green Christmas: Tips to Reduce Holiday Waste

EPA offers easy ways to help keep the green in the environment during the holidays.

Some 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

That's only one of the holiday increases that can negatively impact the environment. Electricity, paper and water are among the other resources whose use increases in December.

The EPA provides these tips for reducing holiday waste:

  • Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you don't need a bag for small or oversized purchases.
  • Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper.
  • Save or recycle used wrapping paper. 
  • Send recycled-content greeting cards to reduce the amount of virgin paper used during the holidays. Remember to recycle paper cards you receive.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany electronic gifts. Consider giving a battery charger as well. 
  • Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will save energy and help lights last longer.
  • To help prevent waste from cutting down and disposing of live trees, buy a potted tree and plant it after the holidays.
  • If you use a live tree, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Arlington County collects and recycles Christmas trees.
  • Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money.
  • When buying gifts, check product labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.


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