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Going green: Holidays

By: Sara Allen

Using LED Christmas lights not only saves energy, but lasts longer and reduces the risk of fire. Photo courtesy of Google images

The holiday season is the time of year for family, friends, vacations and of course presents. Going green is one thing many people do not associate with Christmas. With decorating, shopping, putting up trees and wrapping presents no one has the time to think about helping out the planet while getting in the holiday spirit. This year, why not change it up a bit?

Christmas lights have become a big part of the holiday. People can now synchronize their light displays to music and put up hundreds of thousands of lights to get the look just right. All of those lights take a lot of energy to light up each night. Instead of using regular Christmas lights, try low energy LED lights. These use 90 percent less energy than normal lights, last ten times longer and reduce the risk of fire because they produce less heat.

Lights do not only go on the outside of the house, but on the tree inside as well. There has been a long-standing debate on whether real or artificial trees are a better green option. Some say that since real trees are mostly grown on tree farms and not cut down from forests, there is really no harm in buying one. Another reason people argue in favor of real trees is that the material from which the artificial trees are made is a petroleum based product, which takes energy to produce. People that argue for artificial trees bring up the fact they don’t use the gas to drive to and from the tree lot each year. If you have a real tree this year, then recycle it after the holidays.

Every year, families get a lot of Christmas cards. Most of them end up in the trash after the holidays are over. Instead of sending out regular cards this season, try sending electronic cards. Another greener option is to print your normal cards on recycled paper. Also, buying the card from “organizations that use the funds to make a difference” is a better way to have green cards. When the holidays are over, recycle the cards instead of throwing them away. Most card stores offer free Christmas card recycling as well.

Lights, trees and cards are taken care of, but what about the presents? Instead of normal wrapping paper, put presents in reusable gift bags. If you are determined to wrap gifts, most major retailers carry wrapping paper made from recycled paper products. Finally, save the bows and ribbons from year to year the best you can.

This holiday season, try to be a little greener. Get your family involved in decorating the “green way.” Being green during the holidays is one small thing you can do to help. After all, it’s better to give than to receive, so give back to the planet.

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