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Power down and reduce waste over the holidays

Dec. 15, 2015, 9:19 AM

(iStockphoto)
(iStockphoto)

Before you leave campus for the holidays, please take a moment to shut off lights and appliances, unplug electronics and lower thermostats. Would you like to reduce your impact even more this holiday season? Here are a few additional tips to make your holidays a little greener this year.

Food and entertaining

Plan a meal with a lower carbon footprint and a lower impact on the environment by serving food that is locally and sustainably grown. Visit a local farmers’ market to get fresh meat, produce and breads for your holiday feast (and help keep your local farmers in business). Think about using reusable plates, napkins and utensils for your holiday gatherings. If you must use plastic wares, make sure to recycle them.

Waste

The average American household generates 25 percent more trash during the holiday season. Remember to recycle cans, bottles, cardboard and other packaging that comes along with your gifts or food this holiday season. Don’t forget to send leftovers home with guests to reduce food waste as well.

Decorating

Remember to recycle your tree into mulch after the holidays. Many communities (including Davidson County) have tree recycling programs. If you can, purchase a live tree with a root ball and replant it when it is no longer in use. Decorate your home using items that you already have or items that can be reused and enjoyed after your event, such as whole fruit, small plants, herbs and pinecones. Consider decorating with fewer lights this year—there are many festive alternatives, such as popcorn strings to adorn your tree or home. If you do use lights, put them on a timer and choose LEDs, which use less energy.

Gifts

To reduce gas consumption, carpool and consolidate trips to the mall to purchase your gifts. When possible, buy locally produced gifts—they have a much lower carbon footprint than goods manufactured overseas, and they support your local economy. Consider enclosing gifts in packaging that can be reused, such as baskets or fabric, or choose recycled wrapping like newspaper or last year’s gift bags.

Travel

Carpool to holiday events, encourage guests to carpool, and offset the carbon footprint of any air travel at Terrapass.com or carbonfund.org.

For more holiday greening tips, visit our Sustainable Holiday Greening Guide or contact the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office at sustainvu@vanderbilt.edu or (615) 322-9022.

Contact: SEMO, (615) 322-9022
sustainvu@vanderbilt.edu

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