Celebrating the holidays is a joyous time, but did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s household waste increases by more than 25 percent? Food waste, wrapping paper, and packaging add an additional four million tons to landfills.
There are many simple ways to “green” your holidays by reducing, recycling, and reusing. For the UNM community, you can “Love Red and Live Green” this holiday season the following ways (from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency):
1. The City of Albuquerque accepts Christmas trees in early January, which will be chipped on site and available free to the public to use as mulch while supplies last. Check the City of Albuquerque website at the end of December for drop off dates and locations.
2. Re-gift—Pass on something useful that you no longer need or use.
3. Consider making cookies, bread or a meal as your gift.
4. Give gifts that require little or no packaging, such as the gift of your time (cooking, babysitting, or gardening), a charitable donation, or tickets to an event.
5. Buy greeting cards and gifts made from recycled content.
6. Use cool wrapping materials. Reuse maps, the Sunday comics, and posters. Wrap gifts without a box. And remember to save ribbons, bows and bags to reuse next year.
7. When traveling during the holidays consider taking public transportation, carpooling with friends or relatives, and combining several errands into one trip.
8. Choose rechargeable batteries for your electronics.
9. Do your shopping with reusable bags.
10. Plan meals carefully so as to avoid waste — store wisely and share leftovers.
11. Donate items kids have outgrown or other household items to a local charity.
12. Use Energy Star energy efficient lighting such as LED outdoor holiday lights, which require 1/50th of the electricity of conventional lights and last 20-30 years. Put lights on a timer or turn them on only when someone’s home.
13. Recycle old and defective holiday lights—most Ace Hardware and other stores have a program.
14. Get off mailing catalog mailing lists—call to cancel or go to www.dmachoice.org to opt-out online.
15. Save gift wrap and packaging for reuse.
16. Bag Styrofoam peanuts and bring to UNM Recycling, they will donate these to packing/shipping stores.
It takes only a small commitment to protect the environment and just a few changes can make a significant impact. For more information about sustainability at UNM, follow us on Facebook (UNM Office of Sustainability), Twitter (LoboGreen) or Instagram (unmsustainability).