10 tips for a more sustainable holiday season
Did you know Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve? (CDC 2018). Statistics like this help drive Virginia Tech’s sustainability manager Karlee Siepierski to educate others. She points out that “simple changes around decorating, gift wrapping, and gift giving can make a significant sustainable and financial impact this holiday season.”
Below Siepierski offers tips can be “leveraged throughout the year and boost energy efficiency.”
LED holiday lighting: “Switch to energy-efficient LED holiday lights and LED candles. LED lighting strands use 80 percent less electricity than regular holiday lights. Be sure to plug your LED lights into indoor and outdoor timers to further save on electricity costs.”
Get creative (and sustainable) wrapping presents: “Wrap your gifts with brown craft paper this holiday season, or get creative and use old calendar pages, fabric scraps, or brown paper bags. Most traditional holiday wrapping paper cannot be recycled through curbside programs because of dyes and inks.”
Invest in rechargeable batteries: “Give the gift of rechargeable batteries with new tech toys and devices. Each rechargeable battery can be used dozens of times and keeps batteries and heavy metal out of landfills.”
Shopping local: “Support your local economy by buying from local merchants, farmers markets, craft shows, or antique shops.”
Decorate local: “Shopping for new holiday decorations this year? Don’t forget to visit your local thrift shops for unique finds.”
Seasonal eating: “Plan your holiday meals with vegetables that are purchased and consumed around the time they are harvested. Seasonal food is fresher, tastier, and do not require long distances for transport.”
Treecycling: “Bring your Christmas tree to a local landscaping or chipping facility so it can be recycled into mulch for trails, paths, and walkways.”
Send e-cards: “Ditch the snail mail this year and opt for e-cards instead of traditional holiday cards. That way you’ll save stamps, paper, and reduce carbon emissions from transport.”
Holiday travel: “Going out of town for the holidays? Be sure to turn off lights, turn your thermostat down, and set your holiday lighting on timers.”
Combine errands: “Several trips gathering gifts and entertaining supplies use double, or even triple, the amount of gas. Consider making a list of holiday errands to tackle at one time.”
Karlee Siepierski is Virginia Tech’s university sustainability manager. She can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-7358 for more questions.
Her collegue Ruben Avagyan is also available for print interviews. He is the campus energy manager and can be reached directly at email@example.com or 540-231-6348.
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