9 tips for a greener holiday

As we plunge into the holiday shopping season, take a minute to think about the things you can do to make searching for the perfect gift a little friendlier on the planet (and your wallet).

Here are nine ideas for making the holiday season a little greener and less stressful. Try one. And get more information on how you can save energy and help the planet at

  1. Practice precycling. Precycling means avoiding the purchase of items that will produce waste such as packaging, whether that waste is recycled or not. After all, the most environmentally friendly product is the one that minimizes resources altogether. Find some tips on precycling.
  2. Lighten the load and plan your shopping. Driving around with some extra stuff in the car? Hauling unnecessary weight makes your car less efficient, so remove it if you want to save at the pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy an extra 100 lbs in the trunk reduces your fuel economy by up to 2 percent. By planning your holiday shopping trips and combining them with a friend you’ll both save time, money and gas. More transportation tips.
  3. Be e-smart. The jury’s out on how you can ensure that online shopping is eco-friendly, but a good rule of thumb is to consolidate your shipments. The new trend of e-books and digital print formats is a great low-carbon gift idea. Websites like Inkmesh let you search titles and compare prices of e-books.
  4. Bring reusable shopping bags. Whether you are shopping for holiday gifts or groceries, try to remember to bring reusable bags. Some retailers, including Giant, Kroger, Target and CVS, will give you a discount for using your own bags, and in some cities, retailers charge extra for plastic bags. This is an important step to reducing the 1 billion shopping bags responsible for 300,000 tons of landfill waste in the U.S. every year. Find other facts at Clean Air Council.
  5. Buy recycled products. As you shop for holiday cards or gifts, check the label to see if recycled materials were used. Buying products made with recycled materials sends a signal to companies that consumers care. Find out how you can shop smarter.
  1. Be a smart dishwasher operator. Hosting family and friends over the holidays? Lots of special meals mean extra dirty dishes. You can cut down on energy use by running the dishwasher only when it’s full and using the no-heat air-dry feature. Learn more about dishwashers and other energy efficient appliances.
  1. Buy eco-friendly holiday lights. LED holiday lights use up to 90% less energy than their traditional counterparts. Look for them at your local retailer and visit the Department of Energy for more information.
  1. Reduce and recycle wrapping paper. Did you know that household waste in the U.S. increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day? This year, skip the holiday wrapping aisle and use paper that might have been destined for the recycling bin such as comic pages, old maps, or paper bags.
  1. Give a green gift. This year, consider giving a gift that keeps on giving by making a donation in your loved one’s name to a community charity or nonprofit group. (Please consider C2ES). If you’d still like to wrap something, consider these ideas for an eco-gift from recycled, reused and natural materials.