EcoConsumer: Deck the Halls Green

"Going green" for the holidays is always in style. It helps preserve the planet for ourselves and future generations, and it can also save money and reduce stress. So get your green on with these top 10 tips for green holidays from King County's EcoConsumer program:

  1. Get creative. Save money by making a few of your gifts this year. Crafts are usually a big hit with grandkids. Or make something out of herbs from your garden. The Internet has zillions of ideas and how-to videos. Start as early as you can, or make a mental note to get an early start next year, in September or October.
  2. Give giving. You'd be surprised how many friends and family members really don't want any more "stuff." Instead, give a donation in their name to a favorite charity or organization.
  3. Give doing. Lots of us give "experience gifts" instead of stuff, but why not take it to a new level this year? Just remember, if it involves taking kids somewhere like a zoo or a play, you need to actually do it and not just promise it.
  4. 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 gifts.
  5. Take the lead in holiday lighting. Spell "lead" L-E-D! Prices keep going down on energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights. If you need new lights, go with LEDs and save big money on your electric bill.
  6. Gather around a locally-grown Christmas tree. Find one here. Go to "Nursery Stock," then click on "Christmas Trees" and "Find Farms."
  7. Power down. Try to avoid giving children battery-powered toys. They probably have enough already! Also just say no to battery-powered decorations (think musical Santas) and battery-powered air fresheners.
  8. Make holiday food festive, not garbage. 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 are refrigerated and promptly used. Limit your "experimental" recipes, which typically result in left-over, never-used-again ingredients
  9. Recycle the holidays. Consider making the day after Christmas your recycling and donation day to deal with all the holiday debris. Hit the recycling center and the thrift store.
  10. Remember, it's not just about Christmas. Other celebratory holidays also offer abundant opportunities to reduce waste. Use salvaged materials to make a homemade menorah for Hanukkah, for example.

For more tips, visit the King County EcoConsumer program's Green Holidays website at

Have Green Holidays ideas to share? Questions? Contact King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson at or 206-296-4481.

Tom Watson is project manager for King County's Recycling and Environmental Services (