Easy Being Green | Holidays

Ways to be green during the holidays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The holiday season is often about excess, whether it is food, drink, spending — or waste. It has been calculated that Americans produce an extra 6 million more tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. But the holidays are getting greener all the time as people pick up on some easy ideas to ratchet things back a little. There are "green" free-range turkeys, LED lights and more. Here are some other eco-friendly options. McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Eating and drinking

• Shop for locally grown seasonal produce, such as sweet potatoes at a farmers market, to reduce the fossil fuel energy spent in transportation.

• Remember to bring your reusable bags when grocery shopping.

• If the number of guests exceeds your place settings, you can buy paper plates and cups made with recycled content instead of plastic. Cloth napkins are better than paper ones.

• Serving wine? Look for bottles sealed with real renewable cork instead of plastic.

• When it comes to the feast itself, think small to reduce food that gets thrown away. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans throw away an average of 170 pounds of food per person per year.

Leaving or staying?

If you're flying out of town for the holidays, consider buying carbon credits to compensate for the tons of greenhouse gas your flight will produce (www.carbonplanet.com has information).

If you're staying home, Bridging the Gap and other advocacy groups say there are still plenty of ways to reduce your family's carbon footprint.

If you're hosting a large party, provide recycling bins.

Americans could save 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a month during the holidays if everyone switched to light-emitting diodes (LED), a federal study shows. Other advantages to LED Christmas lights: They last for years, don't overheat and help save on household electric bills.

Then there's the Christmas tree. Is real better than fake? Most artificial trees are made of plastics and metals, which produce greenhouse gases. Most also are made in China, which means more energy burned in transportation. But artificial trees can be used for years.

• A majority of Christmas trees sold in commercial lots are grown on tree farms, meaning no natural forests are cut down to produce them. But most of them end up in landfills. Environmentalists encourage people who buy real trees to have them chopped into useful mulch instead.

• Americans throw away more than 4 million tons a year in gift wrap and bags alone. Wrapping paper and ribbon can be saved for reuse.

• Buy gifts that don't require batteries, or at least use rechargeable ones.

Ways to be green during the holidays 12/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2009 5:16pm]

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