By Debbie Levin


Did you know that Americans increase their garbage by 25% from
Thanksgiving to New Years?  That’s a lot of garbage — more than 25
million tons of extra waste, according to the EPA.  But the good news
is that there are some simple things we can all do to limit our impact
and reduce our overall consumption.

Here’s what you need to know to go greener this holiday season:

  1. Use Recycled Wrapping Paper – Wrapping paper and
    shopping bags account for 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S.
    Most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable because it’s made out of materials
    that are dyed and laminated, contains non-paper additives such as gold
    and silver coloring, and usually is taped.  You can get recycled
    wrapping paper from companies such as Fish Lips and Earth Love’n Paper.  Or get creative — make fabric gift bags, or visit for other alternatives.
  2. Recycle Your Tree – Over 33 million Christmas
    trees are purchased in North America every year and most of those end
    up in a landfill or rotting somewhere.  Find out where to recycle your
    tree by visiting In the top right of the page, enter your location; the site will give you local recycling facilities.
  3. Buy Recyclable Christmas Cards – There are 2.65
    billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. If they are shiny, or
    contain glitter or other materials, they aren’t recyclable. So buy and
    send cards that are made from recycled materials. And, after the
    holiday, recycle the non-shiny cards you received.  Another option:
    Send out e-cards rather than real ones.

  • Shop Responsibly – There is no definitive answer
    to whether shopping online or in person is better. Whenever shopping,
    either online or in person, consolidate your purchases so as to use
    less packaging and fuel. If you can, shop locally so as to benefit the
    local economy. Bring reusable bags when shopping; they aren’t just for
    the grocery store.
  • Green Your Gift Giving – Consider gifts that don’t
    require lots of packaging or wrap. Concert, theater or movie tickets,
    art classes and gift certificates are all low impact gifts. Or you can
    give gifts with an environmental theme or benefit. For stocking
    stuffers, give reusable coffee mugs, gift cards, etc. Other gifts
    include nature books, membership in environmental organizations, bikes,
    trips to eco-resorts, antiques (they’re reused) and items made of
    organic/reused materials.
  • Manage Your Electronic Waste – Many gifts during
    the holidays are tech gadgets that replace older, outdated, or unwanted
    electronics. Make sure that they are properly disposed of through
    e-waste recycling.
  • Buy Rechargeable Batteries – For tech gift
    purchases that require batteries, purchase rechargeable batteries
    rather than disposable. In the long run they will save you money. They
    also keep hazardous materials out of the landfills and water supplies.
  • Check Toxicity of Toys for Children – If you’re concerned about toxic chemicals in children’s toys, check out “The Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys.”
    Thousands of toys are tested and the results are listed with toys and
    toy makers which are ranked based on toxicity. They also provide mobile
    widgets and SMS texting options if you are in a store and want to check
    the toxicity of a toy.
  • Buy LED Holiday/Christmas Lights – It may be time
    to look into LED Christmas lights. LED light strands consume 80-90
    percent less energy than standard light strands, and unlike normal
    bulbs, they don’t generate heat. You can find large or small lights at
    some retailers or they can be found online at sites like: Forever Lights and Mini LED Christmas lights.
  • Cook Healthy Holiday Meals – It’s time to break
    out the family recipes! Let’s give thanks to nature’s abundance with a
    conscience. Cooking local and organic meals will not only go perfectly
    with that eco flatware, but will also benefit your health and the
    environment. Visit your local farmer’s market for your holiday shopping.
  • Debbie Levin is president of the Environmental Media Association
    (EMA) and is regarded as a true thought-leader, merging environmental
    awareness with entertainment platforms and people. EMA works to garner
    attention for pressing environmental issues by leveraging the power and
    visibility of television/film and celebrities through various
    initiatives including greening productions and award shows, supporting
    organic gardens in public schools, and working with the corporate
    sector to promote and encourage sustainable lifestyle choices.