Earth-friendly holiday traditions

Winter celebrations are lots of fun, but they leave behind a lot of extra trash — from holiday party leftovers to gift wrap and boxes to decorations from New Year’s Eve. It’s great to celebrate with friends and family, but while we do, we can also take better care of the earth during the holiday season. Here are some ideas for decreasing trash and making the best holiday memories yet!

Decorating and Party Planning
• Use LED lights for outside and inside decorating. They use less electricity, last longer, and don’t get as hot as other bulbs.
• Place well-marked recycling containers near trash containers and close to the food and drink tables at parties.
• Get out the fancy dishes and silverware for celebrations. If you don’t have enough to serve all the guests, borrow extras from a neighbor or relative.
• Send leftover food in reusable containers home with your guests.
• Decorate a tree in your yard or neighborhood for the birds. Hang seed bells, suet blocks, and pine cones covered in peanut butter and bird seed. Be sure to use a variety of wild bird seed, black oil sunflower seeds, and thistle.

Giving and Receiving
• Give — and request — gifts that don’t need to be wrapped and won’t create waste. How about a dance class or music or art lessons? What about fun experiences like circus or museum tickets?
• Shop secondhand. You can find many special and one-of-a-kind gifts at thrift stores.
• Give the gift of time. Offer to help an older family member with chores in the house or yard, write a monthly letter to a far-off relative, or promise to play a favorite family game every week.
• Consider wrapping gifts using recyclable materials instead of traditional holiday paper. For example, you might use the Sunday Comics pages, coloring book or magazine pages, old maps, the kids’ school artwork, stenciled brown paper bags, fabric scraps, aluminum foil, or decorated shoe boxes. Be creative!
• Turn the fronts of old holiday cards into gift tags.
• Donate old items, such as clothing, games, toys, and shoes, that are replaced by this year’s gifts.

It’s easy to come up with ideas once you get started. Or check out Less Waste, More Cheer!, Invite the 3 R’s to Your Holiday Party, and Hosting a Holiday Party.

Photo credit:  elenaleonova | E+ | Getty Images

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