King County's Green Holidays offers fresh ideas to help consumers reduce waste

'Tis the season for consumption—parties, gifts, shopping, decorations, food and more food—leading to a lot more waste. King County’s Green Holidays program is offering a new crop of ideas this month to help families balance consumption with conservation.

“From DIY presents to gift wrap from reused materials, our website shows consumers a new batch of fun, easy ways to make the holiday more meaningful yet less wasteful,” said Tom Watson, King County’s EcoConsumer. “For example, did you know you can make a beautiful bow for a present out of an old plastic bag, or make family keepsake gifts from salvaged kitchen tiles?”

The website, revamped for the 2012 season, showcases green holiday ideas and projects from local resources and from bloggers around the country. It includes project photos and step-by-step instructions.

The site is also a one-stop resource for information on how to recycle all of the holiday’s leftovers, including wrapping paper, Christmas trees, burned out holiday lights, food waste and batteries.Here’s a sampling of Green Holidays tips offered by King County’s EcoConsumer program to help consumers reduce waste this holiday season:

• Get crafty. There's still time to make a few quick gifts, including fun projects with kids. The Internet abounds with fun ideas using scrap materials you might have at home, from cardboard to plastic bottles to popsicle sticks to corks.

• Give giving. Many of us have an elderly mom or grandma, for example, who says, “Honey, I don’t need any more stuff!” Instead give a donation in their name to their favorite charity, such as an animal shelter.

• Give doing. Lots of us give “experience gifts” instead of stuff, but why not take it to a new level this year? For the adventurous, how about a gift certificate for rock climbing or ziplining? Or consider a trip for an entire family instead of individual gifts.

• Make your own green traditions. These can be a holiday highlight. One family covers a doorway with used wrapping paper every year, and then on Christmas morning the kids burst through it to see their (unwrapped) gifts.

• Be a LED-er in holiday lighting. Prices keep going down on energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights. If you need new lights, go with LEDs and save big bucks on your electric bill. Recycle your old lights - see our Green Holidays website for locations.

• Power down. Reduce the number of toys and decorations you purchase that require batteries. Use rechargeable batteries when possible. For battery recycling locations, consult the Green Holidays website.

• Make holiday food festive, not garbage. All too often, food waste goes hand in hand with the holidays. Aim to cut your household’s holiday food waste in half this year. Give away unwanted food gifts to someone who will enjoy them. Make sure leftovers get refrigerated and promptly used. Limit your “experimental” recipes, which typically result in left-over, never-used-again ingredients.

• Recycle the holidays. Many of us take a day off after Christmas, so consider making that your recycling and donation day to deal with all the holiday detritus. Hit the recycling center and the thrift store.

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