Illinois EPA offers environmentally
friendly holiday tips
'Tis the season to reduce, reuse and
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[December 09, 2008]
SPRINGFIELD -- With the holidays
upon us, Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott reminds people throughout
Illinois when purchasing gifts to be environmentally conscious,
choose sustainable gifts and recycle whenever possible in order
limit the negative impact on the environment and keep tons of
potential waste out of Illinois landfills.
"The end of the year gives us a moment to reflect on our choices
and look forward to new beginnings. This is also a good time to
revisit successful recycling practices that have positive impacts on
the environment, or change some old habits and make a resolution to
adopt a greener lifestyle," said Scott.
With holiday festivities often comes an increase in the amount of
waste and garbage we all produce in our homes. According to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, it has been estimated that
Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and
New Year's Day than during any other time of the year. The extra
waste amounts to 25 million tons. In fact, 38,000 miles of ribbon
alone is thrown out each year -- enough to tie a bow around the
The amount of garbage is not the only item to increase in
homes this season. Making holidays bright can also lead to increased
energy usage and the potential for higher electricity bills. The
Illinois EPA would like to help by offering some simple ways to cut
waste, conserve energy and otherwise be "green" during this busy
The Illinois EPA urges everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle, not
only during the holidays, but every day. Many "green" tips,
suggestions and ideas can be used year-round. Here are some simple
steps you can take to incorporate a more environmentally friendly
Minimize your car
use whenever possible to save gas and reduce air pollution. Take
public transportation, carpool with a friend or walk when you go
shopping or to holiday parties.
Bring your own
reusable bags from home. When buying gifts, consolidate your
gift purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at
durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Consider
how long an item will last before you make a purchase. Often, a
cheaper item will wear out long before its more durable
equivalent, which can be passed down to others.
Buy gifts that are
kinder to the environment, such as a solar-powered calculator,
bird-feeder kit, bamboo skateboard, educational eco-toys,
refurbished computer, backyard composter, rain barrel, and
recycled-content stationery and notepads.
rechargeable batteries rather than disposable batteries to
accompany your electronic gifts. Consider giving a battery
charger as well. About 40 percent of all battery sales occur
during the holiday season.
If you send
holiday cards, buy recycled-content cards and envelopes. Or,
make your own cards out of last year's cards and wrapping paper.
You can also try sending electronic greeting cards to reduce
nonmaterial gifts. How about a gift certificate or coupon for
dinner, music lessons, pet-sitting, house cleaning, guided
tours, prepaid class registration or a massage at a local spa,
or tickets for a sporting event, museum, concert or play?
Make edible gifts,
such as breads, cookies, preserves, dried fruits, nut mixes or
herbed vinegars. Give the baked goods in holiday tins or baskets
that can be reused.
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After the gifts
have been opened, take foam peanut and bubble wrap to a mailing
or shipping store where they can be reused. Save boxes and bows
Invest in your
family and friends. Instead of giving a gift, contribute to a
child's savings account, education IRA or give them a U.S.
savings bond. Or, give a monetary donation in a friend's name to
a favorite charity.
Think up creative
gift wrapping ideas. Wrap gifts in the comics, old calendars or
maps, decorated brown grocery bags, or a colorful piece of
fabric. Also remember to save gift boxes, ribbons, bows and gift
wrap to use next year.
Got a new
microwave, toaster, clock radio, toy or coat? Consider giving
away your old appliances, toys, games or clothing to a local
charity or thrift store.
energy-saving, solid-state LED holiday lights and strands. Items
with these light-emitting diodes are up to 90 percent more
energy-efficient than traditional incandescent holiday bulbs.
If you plan on
entertaining, have clearly marked recycling containers at your
party for guests to recycle their cans and bottles. Put
leftovers in reusable containers and send them home with guests.
If you're shopping
from mail-order catalogs, remember to cancel the ones you don't
holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending
it to a landfill. Check with your local solid waste department
and find out if they collect and mulch trees.
If you're going
away from home for the holidays, turn down your thermostat and
put lights on timers to save energy.
Buy offsets for the climate-altering
carbon emissions you may generate from car and air travel during
the holidays. A number of online programs exist to help you fund
specific emissions-curbing projects.
Environmental Protection Agency
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]