Reduce, re-use, recycle this christmas

Christmas is so close, we can already smell the excitement and pepperpot in the air and the rush that everyone is in to make this day special and memorable. However, while the holiday season brings good cheer for most people, it also brings a lot more waste, harm to the environment, and additional debt to an average family. Here are some environmentally-smart tips for a less wasteful – perhaps less stressful – holiday this year:
1. Wrapping gifts- Instead of buying more and more wrapping paper, only for it to be ripped up and thrown in the bin, get creative and try using colourful pages torn from magazines to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes. Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes. If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper. Reusable cloth ribbons can be used in place of plastic bows. Finally, unwrap gifts carefully and save wrappings for reuse next year. Boxes can be used to create gifts, a snowman and more— just think about the creativity that you can fabricate using reusable items all around us.
2. Electricity – Your electricity bill can quickly shoot skyward as you find yourself preparing for the big day. Here are some tips to reduce your consumption and your bill”
* Whether you’re decorating your tree or outside of your home, use LED lights instead of incandescent ones. LED lights will help save you around 80% of electrical power and not to forget it will also last longer too.
* While your Christmas lights make the street or your house look prettier, no one will be able to see it while they are all asleep. Leaving them on overnight will not only cost you more but also waste energy.
* After the gift exchange, spend some quality time with your family by opting traditional board games and put away new gadgets and devices and turn off the television. By doing this, you will be able to keep consumption at a minimum.
* As the day comes to an end before you slip into bed, make a special effort to switch everything off rather than leaving it on standby.
3. Decorations – Turn old Christmas cards into beautiful decorations. Every year after Christmas, many houses are left with a huge wealth of Christmas cards. While they were perfect to display around the home during the holiday season, most of these cards end up in the bin after the festivities end. Rather than disposing of them we can create something perfect in the spirit of the season, for example, make garlands or gift tags.
4. Donate- Instead of throwing out your old decorations, donate them to someone who needs it.
5. E-Greetings -Instead of sending cards to your loved ones, technology plays a vital role in our lives. You can send your greetings/wishes in an email or on social media.

What are some green resolutions that YOU can consider for the New Year?
Here are seven ways to reduce your impact on the Earth:
1. Recycle: If you aren’t in the habit, start today, and encourage others to do the same. Recycling not only saves natural resources but also saves energy! Start by composting!
2. Remember the other important “Rs”: Reduce and Reuse. Help to lessen the amount of waste by buying items that use little or no packaging, or “buying in bulk” which reduces unnecessary and excessive packaging, and find ways to use items over and over again (eg refilling your empty water bottles).
3. Buy recycled-content products: Remember to “look for it, ask for it”. Resolve to “buy green” by purchasing at least one recycled-content product on a regular basis, such as paper towels or computer paper that is made with post-consumer content.
4. Free your home from toxins. Don’t flush paints, solvents or chemicals down the toilet. Toilet bowl deodorisers, cleaning solutions with lye and many spot removers contain harmful solvents. Baking soda and vinegar substitute as great all-purpose cleaners. A wide variety of non-toxic cleaners can be found in numerous stores. Cut down on pesticides and fertilizers in your garden and limit what you wash into rivers, bays and oceans.
5. Spare the Air. Resolve to minimise using your car whenever possible. Use public transportation, carpool or bicycle once or twice a week for more exercise and cleaner air.
6. Learn to compost. Convert yard clippings and vegetable peelings into nature’s fertilizer. Your garden will love you for it.
7. See the great outdoors. Whether city, county, regional or state – visit the parks/ gardens. Park volunteer or docent opportunities and special programmes geared to kids represent ways to contribute to your community and enjoy nature at the same time.

Christmas is a perfect time to practise your green habits. Make upcycling/recycling during Christmas a new holiday tradition for your family and have a very Merry Christmas from the Environmental Protection Agency…