Yampa Valley Sustainability Council offers green holiday guide
Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is a nonprofit organization working to advance sustainability in the Yampa Valley through programs such as Zero Waste, Yampa Valley Recycles, Energy, Green Building, ReTree Steamboat, Sustainable Schools and Talking Green. Learn more at yvsc.org.
Steamboat Springs — In this season of celebration, decoration, gift giving and travel, Americans generate more waste and use more energy. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the volume of household waste increases 25 percent, and 33 percent more food is thrown away during the holidays.
To green up the holidays — and the other months of the year — Yampa Valley Sustainability Council offers 10 tips to make your holidays easier on the planet.
1) Make your holiday feast a Zero Waste gathering
Ideally, serve food on dishware that can be washed and reused. If you need to serve on single-use tableware, purchase compostable products from The Green Company but make sure to compost it rather than throwing it in the trash. You can reserve your DIY Zero Waste event kit from YVSC today. Reduce your food waste by planning each meal, composting food scraps and eating (or freezing) any leftovers. Learn more about reducing food waste at home at epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home.
2) Use LED holiday lights
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Save money and energy while keeping the holiday spirit bright. LED lights last up to 10 times longer, are safer and use up to 90 percent less energy than traditional lights. Don’t forget to put your lights on timers or turn them off before you go to bed. If you switch to LED holiday lights this year, save your receipt and submit a Cen$ible Energy Rebate form at censibleenergy.org after Jan. 1 to receive money back on your energy-efficient lights. Incandescent holiday lights can be recycled at Ace Hardware in the metal bin at the front of the store. No need to remove the bulbs.
3) Cook with local food
Planning meals with local ingredients means lower carbon emissions from transportation. The Community Agriculture Alliance Market has all the meat, fresh-baked goods and local products for your holiday meal at their online marketplace at caamarket.org.
4) Buy gifts locally
Support our local economy and reduce your overall holiday carbon footprint by purchasing from local merchants and artisans. Visit our friends at MainStreet Steamboat Springs for a list of local favorites. Take the pledge to shop local this holiday season at IShopSteamboat.com.
5) Stop junk mail
The holiday season brings increased catalogs and other junk mail, but you can stop it. Call the 1-800 number on the catalog to end subscriptions or register on websites like dmachoice.org.
6) Buy or cut your own tree
Artificial trees are made with petroleum-based materials and often shipped thousands of miles to reach your home. Cut trees come from a tree farm, which grow new trees each year. If you cut your own tree on our nearby National Forest, be sure to follow the instructions with your permit and cut a tree that otherwise wouldn’t survive. After the holidays, trees and wreaths can be recycled at the Howelsen Ice Arena, 285 Howelsen Pkwy., from Dec. 25 to Jan. 31. All lights, decorations and wire should be removed.
7) Send a photo or video e-card
Cut down on paper products by sending your holiday card (or original holiday video) electronically. If you are going to mail cards, look for recycled content cards. Be sure to recycle the cards you receive or reuse the front cover of cards as gift tags.
8) Decorate with natural materials
As the seasons change, you can make beautiful decorations from items found in nature like pine boughs, twigs, winter berries and pinecones.
9) Avoid alkaline batteries
Every year over 15 billion batteries are produced worldwide, and many are alkaline batteries that are not easily recycled and end up in the trash. If you’re giving a toy or device that takes batteries, purchase rechargeables to go with it.
Recycling is one of the easiest actions to take every single day — not just at the holidays — to conserve resources and protect the environment. For information about recycling in Routt County, including hard-to recycle items, go to YVSC’s Recycling Guide in English or Spanish at yvsc.org/recycling-guidelines.
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