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BUYING GREEN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Ten Ways To Protect the Earth This Holiday Season
Written by: U.S. PIRG

The holiday season is a time of giving and receiving gifts, decorating homes and offices, and sharing special meals with family and friends. Holiday celebrations can be occasions to promote protection of the environment. The holidays also provide an opportunity for families to educate children about the importance of thinking of environmental impacts when making purchasing decisions. With a little foresight, consumers can use their holiday purchases to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste; prevent toxic pollution; save energy and support environmental advocacy.

On the other hand, many of the gifts, foods, and decorations brought home for the holidays can bring unnecessary negative impacts on the environment. Some consumer products marketed during the holidays contain dangerous toxic chemicals that threaten our health and safety. Other products are excessively packaged, leading to unnecessary solid waste that costs taxpayers and the environment. Some holiday purchases are energy inefficient, while overconsumption generally threatens our health, pocketbooks, and the planet.

The following list is designed to be representative of opportunities consumers can use this holiday season to ‘buy green’. The list also shows the kinds of toxic, wasteful, or inefficient consumer products that are available during the holidays, many of which are heavily marketed. The list is not exhaustive and these are not necessarily the best and worst products. But it is a representative sample of the types of environmentally friendly shopping that consumers can engage In during the holiday season.

REDUCE, REUSE, RESCYCLE

Consumers have numerous opportunities this holiday season to practice the "three R's"-- reduce, reuse, recycle. Reducing solid waste in the first place is even better than recycling, because even recycling has some environmental impacts. Reducing during the holiday shopping season, for example, can mean looking for unpackaged products, not buying extra wrapping paper that needs to be disposed of, and getting a replantable Christmas tree rather than one that must be disposed of or recycled later.

Of course, consumers are going to buy things during the holidays. These purchases can be opportunities to promote effective recycling. For example, buying wrapping paper and holiday cards with post-consumer recycled content helps create a market for all the recyclables we put out in curbside bins, thus working to "close the loop." The first part of PIRG’s list of 10 ways to Buy Green for the Holidays includes several ways to use your purchases to promote the three R’s.

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Written by: Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)


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