You can help others this holiday season without breaking your budget. From planning your holiday meals so there aren’t excess leftovers to donating unwanted electronics to local charities, there are many ways you can save money and protect the environment.
The holidays present opportunities to reduce waste, reuse items, and recycle products instead of disposing of them. Here are a few ways that you can practice the three “R’s” to make this a green holiday season:
- Share the good tidings: Make room for new gadgets by donating your unwanted electronics. Used electronics that are still operating can be given to community groups, local schools, or nonprofit organizations. Some donations may qualify for a tax deduction.
- Shop smart: Carry a reusable tote when out shopping. Look for gifts made with recycled material and that have less packaging. Buy green electronic products.
- Look for opportunities to extend the life of old items: Why spring for a new family computer when you can upgrade your existing one? Borrow or rent certain party goods instead of purchasing new ones. If you are preparing for the upcoming digital TV transition, extend the life of your current TV by purchasing a converter box.
- Find the greenest tree: You can save a tree (and reduce greenhouse gas emissions) by buying a potted tree that you can plant after the holidays instead of cutting a tree down. If you do decide to dispose of your tree, look for ways to recycle it instead of sending it to a landfill; your community solid waste department may collect the trees for mulching.
- Send personal, paperless greetings: Save paper by creating your own greeting cards from scrap paper – this can be a fun family project or a way to give your cards a personal touch. You can also skip the paper altogether and e-mail an electronic card. If you do plan to buy cards, look for ones containing a high percentage of recycled content.
- Reuse wrapping paper. Not every piece of wrapping paper gets ripped to shreds; some can be saved and used again next year, which saves money and trees. You can also “wrap” gifts in reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper. And if you want to avoid wrapping paper altogether, give gifts that need little or no packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates.
· Look for Earth-friendly electronics: Electronics are a popular gift, and some electronics purchases are more environmentally-friendly than others. For example, before you buy a new computer, ask yourself if the performance you’re looking for can be gained by upgrading your current computer, perhaps by upgrading your hard drive or RAM. If you do decide to buy a new computer, make sure you buy one that is Energy Star-qualified, which can save both energy and money. Also, an online tool called EPEAT (exit disclaimer) makes it easy to find the computer with the best environmental attributes. Finally, don’t throw away the electronics that get replaced; there are lots of opportunities to reuse or recycle old electronics.