Posted by: Eco-Dentistry Association | December 20, 2011

10 Tips to Green the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and so comes the chaos of planning for the perfect celebration with your loved ones, both in the office and out! This year, make your holiday celebrations good for people and for the planet.

We know you might be too busy wondering how you’re going to fit 20 out-of-state guests in your home this year to consider the not-so-nice side of the holiday season. But consider this: Americans throw away an additional 5 million tons of trash during the holidays-25% more than usual-between Thanksgiving and New Years. That amount doesn’t include the 4 million tons of gift-wrap we toss in the garbage from Christmas gift giving. Yikes!

The good news is, the holidays don’t have to be a time of such needless waste! We can celebrate our thanks, thoughtfulness and care in addition to reducing our impact on the planet. Making eco-friendly choices will save you time and money, and the best part is that it doesn’t have to be hard! Plan ahead and follow our simple steps so you can spend the rest of your free time perfecting your secret pumpkin pie recipe. Enjoy!

10 Tips to Green the Holidays:

1. If you’re hosting a party at home or in your office, choose re-usable or compostable dinnerware! When entertaining, using re-usable plates and utensils will keep garbage out of our landfills. Head to a nearby IKEA and pick up a simple set, or even better, look for recycled glass  dishware!

2. Buy local & prepare the proper amount of food. The ingredients for an average meal in the U.S have traveled 1,200 miles before they make it to our tables (and often times, they’ve traveled further than that!). Buying local helps us support our neighbors during the holidays and often provides a healthier choice! Also, consider the amount of food you prepare…at least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year–or around 100 pounds per person. Putting one less cookie on santa’s plate will reduce his snacking by about 2 million pounds! (Use-Less-Stuff.com)

3. Re-think your gifts and gift cards. Give your staff and family something that reflects their values! Great resources like Shift My Gift help you think of beautiful alternatives to material gifts that will benefit people in the U.S and all around the world! When thinking about your gift cards, consider that the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. Make a phone call, or send out a electronic greeting card instead! If you must send a card, choose recycled cards printed with vegetable-based ink.

4. Use recycled-content gift bags. When putting together festive gift bags for your patients, choose recycled-content gift bags like the ones from Patterson Office Supplies!

6. Use LED lights to decorate.  LED lights can save money and lower your energy bill! LED lights use 90% less electricity than traditional Christmas lights, saving you money on your utility bills and reducing your environmental impact. According to one U.S. Department of Energy study, if everyone replaced their conventional holiday light strings with LEDs, at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month. The savings would be enough to power 200,000 homes for a year. Now that’s a bright idea!

7. Recycle your Christmas tree. Thirty million Christmas trees go into landfills each year. Thanks to organizations like Earth911, you can search by zip code to find a tree recycling center near you.

8. Gift your host or hostess with organic wine and Fair Trade chocolate. Organic wines are made with grapes that aren’t sprayed with harmful pesticides. They also tend to have greater health benefits and brighter flavors! Fair Trade chocolate is produced in an ethical and sustainable fashion and promotes the well-being of those bringing you the tasty treat! Great options include Theo and Dagoba!

9. Re-use gift wrap or get creative! Wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each year in the U.S. If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! If they reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. Try giving gifts in reusable containers, such as baskets and mugs.

10. Adopt a family. Help make the holiday season happy for less fortunate families in your community! Adopt a family as an office and help bring a sense of gratitude to your entire staff. Check with local schools about participating in a program, or check with a nearby Department of Children and Family Services to see how you can help.

For more tips, we love the guide from EcoFabulous.com, which gives you sustainable tips and guides for the impending Thanksgiving holiday! For tips on holidays year round, check out Celebrate Green for practical, easy to implement ideas!

How is your office planning to celebrate? Let us know and we’ll share it on our Facebook and Twitter page!

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