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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Ideas for a Cleaner Environment
Published monthly by the NH Department of Environmental Services Watershed Assistance Program, Concord, NH (603) 271-7889

November, 2007

Have a Very Green Holiday

While celebrating the holidays and giving to our friends, relatives, and others, don’t forget to give back to the planet. By considering your gift and celebration choices carefully, you can reduce environmental impacts from manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal, and decrease your carbon footprint while you’re at it.

Greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming are emitted as a result of the energy we use by driving and using electricity and through other activities that support our quality of life like growing food and producing products. As we increase our consumption of food, fuel and "stuff" during the holidays, we also increase our impacts on natural resources. We also increase our demand for land and water use including construction of roads, malls, parking lots and landfills.

Consider selecting a few changes this holiday season to get you started on making a difference.

For gift giving:

  • Look for gifts with recycled content or clothes made from organic cotton or other sustainable fabrics, like soy and hemp.
  • Consider giving a gift with an environmental theme such as a water-saving showerhead, battery re-charger, Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulbs, compost bin, clothesline, rain barrel for watering the garden, or a gift certificate to a green products company.
  • Select durable gifts that won’t be unfashionable or obsolete six months from now.
  • Give tickets to a sporting event, play, or concert that can provide hours of enjoyment and lifelong memories.
  • Make a charitable donation in someone’s name to a favorite environmental non-profit organization.
  • If you’re shopping by mail order catalogue, choose items that won’t be excessively packed for shipping. To cancel unwanted catalogs, visit Tips for Consumers
  • Bring your own shopping bags for gift and grocery shopping. Or give a nice re-usable grocery bag as the gift.
  • Make home baked goodies like New Hampshire apple pies or purchase locally grown food items like maple syrup.
  • Divide larger house plants and share. Place in decorative pots, either store bought or painted by you or the kids.
  • Have a re-gifting swap party. Rather than purchasing new gifts, search for items that someone else would like.

You can also reduce waste while celebrating at your workplace or other holiday party. Consider adopting a policy of keeping a reusable plate, cup and utensil for the celebratory goodies as opposed to constantly using stacks of disposable materials for these events. This not only saves on paper and plastic, but also reduces the cost of organizing events.

In addition, consider buying locally for your holiday celebrations and gift giving. Locally owned business purchases require less transportation. They help keep your local economy strong and encourage an active community center or downtown. This can lead to reduced congestion and sprawl and related problems of habitat loss and pollution.

During the holiday season, the average household generates three to ten bags of extra trash. Set aside a box to store ribbons, bows, boxes, and wrapping paper to re-use next year. Save your old greeting cards for making new cards, decorations or gift tags, or use for scrap paper. If too worn out to re-use, bring old boxes and paper to your local recycling facility. Drop off extra packaging materials at local private mailing centers. If you had a Christmas tree in your home, be sure to check with your local public works department for tree chipping events in your town. For a list of municipal tree recycling centers, visit Holiday Tips. Wood chips can be used in landscaping or composted into useful soil amendment. Take a few minutes to take apart those wilting wreaths and garlands, re-use the wires and frames, and set aside the greens for composting.

By using this opportunity to give back to the earth this holiday season, you’ll be helping to preserve our environment for future generations. For more holiday earth friendly ideas, call the NH Department of Environmental Services at (603) 271-2975.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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