Community Agriculture Alliance: Greening your holidays
November 14, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Going green this holiday season does not have to be difficult. Instead, you can keep it simple and eco-friendly with just a few changes to your holiday traditions. Here are some tips to green your holidays:
Think simple: You don't have to buy a lot of fancy decorations for the holidays. Instead of buying pre-made wreaths and plastic doodads, you can look around for the natural touches that make the holidays seem festive. Pine boughs, pine cones, holly leaves and berries, fresh cranberries and more are all-natural additions to your holiday decor.
Reuse: Another great thing about the holidays is that they come back every year. Instead of buying disposable decorations, why not invest in quality ones that will last you more than one year? That way, you can bring them out year after year and you will be consuming less and reducing your contribution to the landfill.
Local food and products: Whether you're cooking for a crowd or just for two during the holidays, support local vendors by making an effort to buy local and give where you live. Use local products by shopping with Routt County organizations, including Northwest Colorado Products, Yampa Valley Co-op and the Community Agriculture Alliance.
Recycle: Christmas trees and other holiday decorations are easy to recycle if you know how. Your holiday trees can be dropped off at Howelsen Hill to be composted. Old holiday lights can be recycled at Ace Hardware, Walmart or Natural Grocers. Make sure to dispose of used batteries safely, too: Your single-use alkaline batteries are safe for your household trash, but button cell, lithium or rechargeable batteries need to be recycled at Centennial Hall.
Minimize gifts: For many of us, the holidays are a time we get gifts we never will use. Focus on giving gifts that will last. Donations for charities are a great gift that makes everyone feel warm. Colorado Gives Day is Dec. 10, and 12 local organizations are participating. Visit http://www.coloradogives.org and plug in your ZIP code to find ways to donate or visit the http://www.yvsc.org ReTree program page to purchase trees in the name of a loved one that will be planted by local children and families in 2014. You also should donate gifts you don't want and items that have been replaced, like sweaters, to charities.
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Cards: Holiday cards and invitations to holiday parties are traditional, but they also are wasteful. Avoid cutting trees with evites, ecards and videos. They are cheaper and easier to send and even more delightful.
Light friendly: LED and solar holiday lights are becoming more affordable and widespread. They not only cut down on or eliminate this excess on your electric bill, but also are not as polluting to the environment. Work on replacing your lights and minimize the time you have them on. A timer is a great way to keep lights on when they are needed and off when they are not. And when they expire, your LED lights can be disposed of safely at Lightworks of Steamboat on Loggers Lane.
Wrapping paper: Thankfully, you can buy great-looking, recycled wrapping paper for all your gifts at Lyon Drug Store, 840 Lincoln Ave. Try to choose options that are eco-friendly and recyclable so everyone can have a green holiday. Some papers are even able to be tossed in the compost bin and added to your garden later on. And true recycle champions use a reusable shopping bag or a cloth gift bag instead of paper for gifting.
As you can see, it is easy to green your holidays. All it takes are a few simple steps to make your holiday greener for everyone. Make sure you recycle all you can and give away things you won't use.
Andy Kennedy is the program and marketing director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Madoline Hatter is communications manager for http://www.changeofaddressform.com.