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Easy Being Green | More green tips for the holidays

Green tips for the holidays: Go natural with gift wrap, trees

Have you been dreaming of a green Christmas? With a little bit of effort — maybe much less than you thought — you and your family can enjoy the holiday and help save the planet at the same time. McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Wrapping

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, the average American household increases its trash output by 25 percent, resulting in 5-million extra tons of garbage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Think about Christmas morning — you get done, and you have all these garbage bags full of trash," said Susan Angel, a green events planner from Boise and owner of Angel & Co.

The biggest thing someone can do to green their holiday, Angel said, is to do away with traditional wrapping paper and packaging, which often cannot be recycled.

Last year, Angel made gift bags out of fabric. "They are so easy to sew — three seams and a hem with a piece a ribbon," she said. "If you are not real crafty, consider pillow cases tied with a ribbon." Other options include cloth or reusable gift or tote bags, or wrapping gifts in usable items like dish towels or scarves. And try old newspapers, magazine pages, paper bags or old maps.

The Sierra Club has estimated that if every family wrapped three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Trees

Fake holiday trees are not environmentally friendly. Most are made in China from petroleum-based PVC and are not biodegradable, so they will sit in landfills for decades.

For a "greener" holiday tree consider a live, uncut tree, which can be replanted in your yard after the holidays.

Fresh-cut Christmas trees from tree farms are a better choice than trees harvested from the wild.

Most fresh-cut Christmas trees now come from tree farms, so deforestation isn't an issue.

Additionally, Christmas tree farms keep large swaths of land from being developed. When the trees grow, they emit oxygen into the air. But they often require pesticides and must be shipped, which consumes fuel.

When a cut holiday tree is past its glory, it can be recycled into mulch.

Recycle or reuse electronic gadgets

Here's a good rule for when your fancy new Christmas present replaces last year's electronics: If the gadget still works, donate it. If it is broken or antiquated, recycle it. But whatever you do, don't throw it in the trash.

And don't forget the batteries. About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season.

Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger as well.

Rechargeable batteries keep regular batteries, which contain potentially harmful materials, out of the landfill and can save money in the long run.

Green tips for the holidays: Go natural with gift wrap, trees 12/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 2:30pm]
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