Dear Students and Families: Congratulations—we crossed the threshold of the midway point of the fall semester earlier this week! I hope you’ll take time this weekend to recharge your batteries, connect with friends and burn off some stress. The activities…
Tips for Making the Holidays More Sustainable
The holidays are usually a time of overindulgence, but holiday traditions can be made more sustainable with a little creativity. We reached out to Syracuse University’s Office of Energy Systems and Sustainability Management for some ideas on how to make the holidays more environmentally friendly.
For your holiday gift giving, consider:
- Using left-over paper grocery bags or brown parcel paper. Decorate with non-toxic paints and/or stamps.
- Use containers which are themselves reusable—decorative tins and boxes filled with homemade cookies or candies are always a good choice.
- Save your bows and ribbon and reuse them for your next gift.
- Stop using synthetic ribbons and bows as they are usually made from plastic, instead use natural items such as twine made from hemp or jute.
- Use the scarf you bought as a gift and wrap a second gift in the scarf.
- Use last year’s holiday cards as gift tags.
- Purchase experiences instead of toys and other gifts for kids and adults such as zoo passes, museums, trampoline passes or ski passes.
- Consider “A Day With” (grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, aunt, uncle) and go on a hike, sleigh ride, horseback riding, luncheon or dinner at a special restaurant.
- Shop local and or family-owned businesses. There are several chocolatiers, specialty meat, grocery shops and gift shops here in Syracuse and other local communities.
- Shop at secondhand stores.
- Shop at your local library, most sell donated books at a much lower cost than a retail store.
- Give a plant as a gift to help purify the air in the home. Snake plants, spider plants and peace lilies are some of the best.
Purchasing a new electronic item?
- Donate your old TV, computer or cell phone to a local charity. Here’s a list of Syracuse charities accepting items.
- Sell your gently used electronics at a consignment store.
- Did you get a new laptop or cell phone for the holiday? Syracuse University Bookstore has a Device Trade-In center—get a quote and see if you can get some “gift money” from the old device, which includes laptop and desktop computers, cell phones, tablets and MP3 players.
Reduce your energy consumption during the season:
- Consider LED holiday lights. They consume 80-90 percent less energy than the older incandescent bulbs and will last for years.
- Don’t forget to turn off your holiday lights prior to going to bed.
- Lower your home’s heat to 62 degrees when leaving for a few hours or days.
Purchase local and organic products from New York State:
- Most grocery stores have sections with local and organic products in them. Consider making a local fruit and cheese platter for your holiday guests, homemade pancakes or French toast with local organic maple syrup, local apple pie and apple cider. Many root vegetables, such as acorn squash, butternut squash and cabbage, are still available locally. Don’t feel like baking? Visit your local family-owned bakery and order a special dessert.
- Don’t forget your reusable bag when going to the grocery store.
- Consider an edible centerpiece. Start with seasonal apples and pears and add a hard squash or small pumpkin. Place in a decorative bowl and add some herbs or greenery from your holiday tree. Add a candle and bow for a special touch.
Know your county’s recycling rules:
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is 25 percent more household waste per day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year. This turns out to be about one million additional tons of garbage to our landfills each week during the holidays. To help out, be sure to recycle whatever you can, including wrapping paper and product packaging.
- Use non-metallic wrapping paper and gift cards to make sure they can be recycled.
- Did you get new toys, shoes, boots or clothes? Donate the older ones or sell them at a thrift store.
- Donate books to a local library.
Live Christmas tree disposal:
- Make sure you know your municipalities’ curbside collection days.
- The Onondaga County Resource Recovery’s compost locations in Amboy or Jamesville will take the tree for free.
- Put the tree in your yard and let the birds use it for protection from rain and snow. Hang suet with birdseeds in it on the branches. You can also scatter pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed, apple slices and banana slices, peanuts still in the shell or mixed nuts within the tree.