That’s the firm belief of Joanne Roueche, Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Davis County.
“As energy costs rise, it is more important than ever to cut where we can,” she said. “Even small changes can have significant results.”
She offers these tips for conserving during the holidays:
Conserve resources, both financial and environmental, by reusing where possible.
• Make creative gift wrap. Use old calendars, wallpaper, magazines, catalogs or newspapers. Use brown paper grocery bags to mail packages.
• Make the wrapping functional. Use a dish towel, napkin or place mat or select a reusable bag or tote as part of the gift.
• Even plastic packing peanuts can be recycled through the Plastic Loosefill Council’s Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214.
• Packing materials can be reused, or make your own. Run used gift wrapper through a paper shredder to make colorful, inexpensive filler for gifts.
• Donate to charity. A receipt for tax deductions can help you as you help someone else.
• For the family member who has everything, donate to a favorite charity, adopt an angel in their name or give to preserve an endangered species.
Energy use can go up significantly when holiday lighting is taken into account. Make careful lighting decisions.
• Strings of 25 large outdoor bulbs can cost two to three times as much in electricity as 100 miniature lights.
• When replacing indoor and outdoor lighting, choose energy-efficiency lights.
New LED string lights use only a fraction of the energy required by standard mini-lights. Although they are more expensive, they last up to 100,000 hours or 20 years.
• Place holiday lights on a timer and limit lights to six hours a day.
• Do not leave holiday lights up all year. Summer months’ heat causes wires to break down, increasing replacement costs and the possibility of fire.
• Support local tree recycling programs to provide compost or mulch for future trees.
• Trim with nature. Wonderful memories can be created by stringing popcorn, cranberries or other items from nature.
• After the usefulness of an artificial tree has ended, be sure to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.
• Start by simplifying your life. Remember what the holidays are really about. Re-check your gift and holiday card lists and see if there are things that can be eliminated.
• Return gifts that are the wrong size, color or style. Many closets are filled with items that are never worn.
• Stage a re-gifting party. Friends or family can bring gifts that have never been used and take them for something they like or would work for someone on their gift list.
• Think about sending e-cards or email the family holiday letter.