As the holiday season is in full swing, many may be “dreaming of a white Christmas”; however a traditional holiday celebration can also be very green. Taking the time to reduce waste, save energy, and conserve resources is a gift not only to current but also future generations.
WASTE REDUCTION AND RECYCLING
- Illinois law now requires residents to recycle most consumer electronics – your trash collector will not accept them for disposal in the landfill. McLean County residents (but not businesses) can recycle them at one of many locations listed at our website. Three local locations accept all consumer electronics with no fees or restrictions for any items – the Habitat For Humanity ReStore at 1402 W Washington in Bloomington, the Home Sweet Home Ministries Warehouse at 1704 W. Washington in Bloomington, or the Normal Public Works Garage at 1301 Warriner Street.
- If your old holiday lights are no longer working, recycle them along with worn out extension cords at the same locations listed above.
- Most gift wrap is recyclable except plastic wraps or metallic papers. In addition, all cardboard and paperboard packaging is also recyclable. If you do not have curbside recycling where you live, you may utilize the Town of Normal’s drop-off locations.
- Better yet, save both money and resources by avoiding commercial gift wrap and use the funny pages of the newspaper instead or reusable gift bags. You can even make your own simple gift bags with remnants of any fabric and a few quick stitches with a sewing machine.
- Instead of more “stuff”, consider giving non-material gifts such as an experience or time together. Whether it is taking someone out to a concert, a hike together at Sugar Grove or the Merwin Preserve, or a membership supporting the work of a local nonprofit, you can show people you care while not generating unneeded stuff.
- Upgrade to LED Holiday lights. LED lights can save up to 70% of the energy over traditional incandescent light strands, can last 10 times longer, and are cool to the touch so they present less of a fire hazard. Using LED lights will reduce your energy usage, save you money, and decrease pollution from electricity generation.
- Weatherize your home to save energy. Simple window insulations kits are inexpensive and can significantly reduce drafts.
- Install an inexpensive programmable thermostat and set it to turn your heat down low at night while you are asleep or away from home during the workday.
- Put your holiday lights on a timer to avoid wasting energy during the day or when you are not at home.
PROTECT CLEAN WATER
- To reduce storm water runoff pollution which contaminates our local water supplies, avoid using salt on your sidewalk and driveway when possible, shoveling instead before snow hardens and becomes slippery.
WHICH IS THE GREENER CHRISTMAS TREE CHOICE – REAL OR ARTIFICIAL?
In most cases a real Christmas tree wins out over an artificial on multiple points.
- A real tree is renewable resource that is 100% compostable as opposed to an artificial tree which is normally made from petroleum products and is not recyclable anywhere.
- Real trees normally have a smaller carbon footprint due to being a natural product and domestic origin. Artificial trees may be produced overseas.
- A good choice would be a locally-harvested real tree, ideally one that has not been sprayed with any pesticides.
- Of course, the best option yet is using what you’ve got. Still using an artificial tree you bought in the 80′s? Way to go!
- Find some great gifts that help support environmental education at the Ecology Action Center including rain barrels, reusable gift wrap, and more!
Find more ways to green the holidays and everyday at www.ecologyactioncenter.org.