10 ways to go green for the holidays
- Use LED Christmas lights. LED (light emitting diode) Christmas lights use 10 percent of the energy of typical incandescent Christmas lights and are safer than typical lights because they do not generate heat. They are also inexpensive and beautiful, and using LED lights to decorate the office or a display window could save a business up to 90 percent on holiday lighting costs.
- Put lights on a timer. Setting a timer to turn off lights after hours or when the sun comes up is a simple and effective way to cut down on holiday electric bills.
- Email holiday cards and party invitations. Save paper and money by e-mailing holiday cards and Christmas party invitations. Sites like evite.com, 123greetings.com and Hallmark.com offer a variety of free, eye-catching card and invitation choices.
- Reduce holiday party waste. When it comes to serving food, reusable plates and glasses will reduce waste and save money if they are used for other parties. Reusable party kits can be purchased from vendors such as greenpartykits.com, or the office can create its own green party kit with a large, transportable bin and a collection of lightweight, non-breakable dishes and cloth napkins.
- Recycle. Increasing what you recycle is the easiest way to reduce your waste removal costs, which can rise as much as 25 percent during the holidays. Or, if you go through a lot of recyclable goods, contact your recycling service provider to negotiate a recycling contract and start making money from your trash. Really.
- Buy recycled products. If you must use disposable products, buy recycled and biodegradable products readily available in stores. Recycling is a great first step, but buying recycled products increases demand for recycled goods and goes one step further to help the environment.
- Donate leftover holiday party food. If food is being served in abundance, refresh trays rather than putting all of it out at once to prevent spoilage. Any food that has not been put out at the end of the party can be donated to a local shelter or food pantry. Not only will this reduce waste, but will enhance the spirit of Christmas giving to those in need. Call ahead for details on what the shelter can use and how to deliver to it.
- Green employee gift ideas. Give gifts of locally produced food and products in cloth shopping bags with your company’s logo or in baskets. Reusable coffee cups or travel mugs can also be purchased with company logos. Companies such as envirotote.inc and ecobags.com custom-make reusable bags and travel mugs for any business. Not only will these gifts encourage recipients to reduce their use of disposable products, they are an excellent marketing technique that elevates your company’s profile every time they are used.
- Carbon neutral shipping. When delivering gifts or other business items, consider carbon neutral shipping, an option now offered by UPS and several retail stores, which allows you to buy carbon offsets to cancel out the shipment emissions.
- Carpool to Christmas parties. If the party is after hours or off-site, encourage employees to carpool. This can be as simple as posting a ride-share board so people can match themselves. Other incentives used by businesses include valet parking or prizes for those who arrive with three or more passengers in a vehicle.
- Bonus! (literally)
- “Going green” bonuses for employees. If you want to go all-out green, a business holiday party can feature games that challenge employees to think of ways to save energy and reduce waste, with prizes as an added bonus for winning ideas. This is a fun way to raise awareness and get people thinking about changes that can make the company greener in the New Year.
Remember, a little green will go a long way. Happy holidays from the Environmental Assistance Center, and don’t forget to contact us about your company’s efforts to go green.
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