T’is the season to decorate, give gifts and travel – a wonderful time to be with family and friends but also a time that increases waste, energy and your carbon footprint. Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has compiled a list of 10 helpful tips to make your holidays more sustainable. With thoughtful planning and a small commitment, you can minimize your impact while still having a delightful holiday season.
- Give an experience, not stuff
Choose to give gifts that have little to no packaging – gift card to a favorite restaurant, a charitable donation in a loved one’s name or tickets to an event.
- Use LED holiday lights
Save money and energy while keeping the holiday spirit bright. LED lights last up to 10 times longer and use up to 90% less energy than traditional lights. Don’t forget to put your lights on timers or turn them off before you go to bed. Old incandescent holiday lights can be recycled at Ace Hardware. No need to remove the bulbs.
- Recycle more at your holiday feast
Ideally, serve food on dishware that can be washed and reused. If you need to serve on single-use tableware, purchase recyclable materials. Reduce your food waste by planning each meal including portion sizes, and eating or freezing any leftovers. Learn more about reducing food waste at home at epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home.
- Cook with local food
Planning meals with local ingredients means lower carbon emissions from transportation. The Community Agriculture Alliance Market has meat, fresh baked goods and local products for your holiday meal at their online marketplace at caamarket.org.
- Stop junk mail
The holiday season brings increased catalogs and other junk mail, but you can stop it! Call the 1-800 number on the catalog to end subscriptions or register on websites like dmachoice.org.
- Buy or cut your own tree
Artificial trees are made with petroleum-based materials and often shipped thousands of miles to reach your home. Choose to cut a tree from a local tree farm or your nearby National Forest. Trees (no wreaths) can be recycled at the Howelsen Ice Arena at 285 Howelsen Parkway from December 25 – January 31. Please remove all lights, decorations and wire.
- Send a photo or video e-card
Cut down on paper products by sending your holiday card or video electronically. Recycle the cards you receive or reuse the front of the cards as gift tags.
- Decorate with natural materials
As the seasons change, you can make beautiful decorations from items found in nature like pine boughs, twigs, winter berries and pinecones.
- Avoid alkaline batteries
Every year over 15 billion batteries are produced worldwide, and many are alkaline batteries that end up in the trash. Purchase rechargeable toys over ones that use single-use batteries.
Recycling is one of the easiest actions to take every single day—not just at the holidays—to conserve resources and protect the environment. Visit YVSC’s extensive online Recycling Guide in English or Spanish at yvsc.org/a-zrecycleguide.