Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The holidays are upon us.

And while we may not be able to totally de-stress when it comes to figuring out what to buy Great Aunt Sarah or whether your siblings are going to battle it out at the dinner table, you can rest easier that, at least by following these easy tips, you can save a few dollars on energy and reduce your carbon footprint.

Use LED Christmas lights. These consume 90 percent less electricity compared to regular Christmas lights and incandescent bulbs. As an added bonus, they cost only about $10 per strand.

Time your Christmas lights. Set the timer to switch on the tree lights when it gets dark and switch them off when you go to bed. Don’t turn on the lights during the day. It’s a waste of energy and electricity since you really can’t see them anyway.

Put the tree on, turn the lights off. When your tree is lighted, there should be enough illumination so that you don’t need other lights. You’ll save energy plus enhance the festive atmosphere.

Buy energy-free gifts. Almost 40 percent of all batteries (more than 40 billion bought during the year are purchased in the Christmas season. Then, these single-use batteries end up in landfills. Make a dent in that number and buy gifts that either don't require batteries at all or buy rechargeable batteries and a charger (if the recipient doesn’t have one) to go with the gift.

Make your own wrapping paper. Did you know that most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, so it ends up in landfills? Channel your inner Martha Stewart and wrap presents with old maps from your town or state, your kids’ artwork or a scarf/dish towel tailored to the gift.

Recycle your Christmas tree. Ninety-eight percent of Christmas trees are grown on farms specifically for the holidays. But, each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. Whenever possible, recycle instead. Drag the tree into the woods, if possible, so that it can become shelter for animals. Drag the tree to the curb if your city has pickup. Call (800) CLEANUP or visit www.earth911.org to find the tree-recycling program near you.

Recycle your old cell phone. If you get a new cell phone for Christmas, put your old one to go use. Drop it off at any Staples store as part of the Sierra Club cell phone recycling program. Each year, 130 million cell phones are thrown out, weighing approximately 65,000 tons.