Think green this holiday season

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By Theresa Howard

During the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans produce an extra 1 million tons of trash per week compared to any other time of the year. Thinking green this holiday season can include more than just boughs of holly. Whether it is shopping, choosing a gift or entertaining, small changes in your holiday habits can make big differences. Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how to have a wonderful, gift-giving holiday season and still be earth friendly.

Green gift ideas

•Consider nonmaterial gifts. Tickets to a sporting event, movie, play or concert are a real treat, or make a charitable donation in someone’s name. Make a photo album, scrapbook or frame a favorite picture.

•Everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal or baked goodies. Fill a basket with homemade jellies, muffins and cookies. Include the recipe. Dried fruits, drink mixes and roasted nuts are always appreciated. Package gifts from your kitchen in reusable tins, baskets or jars.

•Shop locally. Give food items from a local producer or agri-tourism business or handcrafted gifts from other merchants in our community.  

•Think durable. Consider how long an item will last before you make a purchase. Often a cheaper item will wear out long before its more durable equivalent.

•Aim for eco-friendly entertaining. Use your best china, glassware and cloth napkins for entertaining. It requires a little more work but reduces waste from paper plates, napkins and disposable utensils. 

Reduce, reuse and recycle

•Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. 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.

•Use old Christmas cards for tags and hand deliver whenever possible to save energy. Remember to save and recycle used wrapping paper and ribbons from gifts received.

•About 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year. After the holidays, look for ways to recycle or mulch your tree instead of sending it to a landfill.

•Remember always to look for items made with recycled content. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.

For more holiday-related information, check the See Blue Go Green Web site www.ca.uky.edu/gogreen/holiday.php.