Even the most committed “tree hugger” may find staying green during the holidays a real challenge. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the typical American tosses out an additional 25 percent more trash, according to industry experts. Add to that the extra energy that holiday lights produce, and you’ve got a recipe that’s actually counterproductive to living green.
Help is at hand from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which offers businesses and home owners a list of tips to cut waste, conserve energy and otherwise “be green” during the holiday season. But why stop with the holidays? Many of the ideas can be used year-round.
• Buy gifts that are kinder to the environment. These include items such as low-flow shower heads, cloth shopping bags, a solar-powered calculator, educational eco-toys, a refurbished computer, backyard composter, a rain barrel, a refillable thermos bottle, and recycled-content stationary and note pads. Also, cheaper doesn’t always mean better. A less expensive item may wear out long before its more expensive counterpart, and thus become a candidate for the landfill.
• Buy rechargeable batteries and battery chargers to accompany electronic gifts. It should come as no surprise that an estimated 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holidays. Spent batteries contain metals that can contaminate the environment if not disposed of properly.
• Consider upgrading to energy saving LED holiday lights and strands that are up to 90 percent more efficient than conventional incandescent holiday bulbs. Put lights on timers to save energy and electricity costs.
• Have clearly marked recycling containers scattered about the room at your holiday parties. Make it easy for guests to recycle their cans, bottles and used paper goods. Send them home with leftover food stored in recyclable containers.
• After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Contact your local solid waste department to see if they collect and mulch trees.
• Recycle any burnt out holiday lights. For information about how EverLights can help safely recycle your lights, batteries and other electronic waste, visit our website or call 773-734-9873.
What “green” holiday tips are you incorporating at your place of business? Share them here so that others can benefit, and be inspired.