Keep the Holidays Green

 As residents prepare to celebrate the holidays with family and friends this year, the Will County Land Use Department’s Resource Recovery and Energy Division would like to encourage eco-friendly practices.

“There are many simple things we can do to help our environment,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “If everyone adopted one or two, it would have an enormous impact.”

Recycling Specialist Marta Keane suggests practical gifts that the receiver will use, including gift cards to favorite stores or restaurants.

“A gift of your time can be the most treasured of all,” said Keane. “Make a gift certificate for a service such as babysitting, car detailing, or a grocery run. And shared activities, such as a spa date, tickets to a sports event, the theater or movie, and lunch, will be remembered long after the decorations are packed away.”

Environmental Educator Joan O’Keefe and Keane both suggested thinking beyond the normal when wrapping gifts, such as using reusable bags, dish towels, or picnic baskets that become part of the gift. Another option is to reuse gift boxes and wrapping paper, where possible.

“Use paper bags or newspapers to wrap gifts,” O’Keefe said. “The craft paper can be left plain or decorated. Gift tags or ornaments can be made by from old Christmas cards. Use twine, which is compostable, to hang them.”

If a resident is seeking to reuse gift wrapping, they should avoid foiled card envelopes and wrapping paper that cannot be recycled, along with ribbons.

Decorating can be done more energy-wise, too.

Energy and Conservation Specialist Briana Moore said, “For indoor and outdoor decorations, residents can look for more energy-efficient and longer-lasting LED Christmas lights instead of incandescent lights. Putting the lights on a timer or shut them off with a smart plug/power strip before going to bed can also help ensure they are not running all night.

“Also, as always, opting for ENERGY STAR- and WaterSense-certified appliances and devices instead of other models can help use less energy while enjoying all the fun holiday activities like cooking and listening to carols on the radio,” Moore said.