8 Ways to Go Green Over the Holidays

by Kelli Coleman, Green Student Intern | November 17, 2015

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The holiday season is a time of joy, community and giving back. With festive dinners, extravagant decorations, and beautiful presents it is easily the best time of the year.  Unfortunately it can also be a time of increased waste production and energy use around your home. Thankfully there are many opportunities to give back to the environment by going green this holiday season! Check out these eight easy tips to help limit your environmental impacts and spread holiday cheer.

1.) Buy local seasonal ingredients for your holiday meals – There’s still plenty of time to purchase locally grown and made products such as squash, pumpkins, carrots, greens, cookies, milk, grits, honey, and much more for your holiday meals. Avoid the grocery store rush and help support local farmers by purchasing fresh ingredients your whole family will love. In Oxford, the Farmer’s Market Store  and Living Foods sell local ingredients. 7D Farms also offers a winter bread club with locally made breads, cinnamon rolls, cookies and more.

2.) Donate unopened canned goods to the UM Food Bank – Instead of pushing unopened canned to the back of your pantry, bring them to the UM Food Bank in Kinard 213 or drop them off in Food Bank donation bins across campus. Your unused canned goods will make a significant contribution to the Ole Miss community and give many students the opportunity to have a meal over the holidays.

3.) Send e-cards or e-invites instead of using paper cards – Sending out holiday cards lets your friends and family know you are thinking about them! Instead of using expensive paper products and paying for postage, send out a fun e-card! Check out sites like Fleeting Greetings for high quality art prints, JibJab to embarrass your relatives with funny dancing faces orPunchbowl for e-cards that look like real paper cards with envelopes! You will save paper and still be able to keep in touch with that aunt in California.

4.) Use LED lights and a timer – When decorating for Christmas, use LED string lights both inside and outside your home. LED stands for “light emitting diode,” which means that when connected to an electrical current, the diode emits electrons which produce a light around the bulb. LED lights use one-tenth of the electricity of incandescent bulbs. Connect a timer to your string lights so that they turn off during certain periods to save energy. At night, turn off indoor Christmas tree lights and other decorative lights once everyone goes to bed.

5.) Shop at local Oxford businesses – November 28 is Small Business Saturday, so get a group of friends together and hit the Square to support our local businesses! Also, by shopping locally in Oxford and carpooling with friends you can reduce your carbon emissions produced by driving far distances. If you need to order gifts online, check out Rakuten.com (formerly Buy.com). This site is different from other e-commerce sites, because it aims to connect shoppers and shop owners all over the world. When products are sent to large retail stores, they go from the distributor, to multiple warehouses and then to the store creating a lot of carbon emissions. With 35% less energy consumption and carbon emissions, online shopping with Rakuten.com eliminates the intermediate steps and reduces environmental impacts.

6.) Use reusable plates, cups and utensils at your holiday dinner parties – Dinner parties are an important part of spending time with friends and family over the holiday season. Using real plates and cups makes the occasion more special and reduces your household waste. Dust off those hidden dishes and show off your holiday finery! If you must use disposable products, buy 100 percent recycled or compostable paper products to limit your environmental impact. Avoid Styrofoam plates and cups at all costs since this material does not break down for thousands of years.

7.) Reuse decorations – Instead of buying new decorations each year, look around the house and use what you already have. You will save a lot of money and reduce the amount of waste produced when decorating. It is also fun to be crafty and make new decorations using natural sources found outside of your home. You can make a door wreath using leaves and evergreen branches or display pine cones in a glass bowl with apples and oranges. Everyone loves a festive pumpkin on the doorstep! Decorate your Christmas tree with natural items or save ornaments to use each year instead of buying new ones.

8.) Reuse gift wrapping, bags, and tissue paper for presents – Everyone knows that when an excited child rips open their presents, the wrapping paper quickly becomes beyond repair and reuse. Instead of using wrapping paper on every gift, use cloth wrappings or put presents in reusable gift bags. The same gift bags, ribbon and tissue paper can be used each year to help you save money and go green! If you have children, have them paint or color old newspaper then use it to wrap their presents. Get creative with gift wrappings this year to impress your friends and family.

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