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Have a ‘green’ holiday with these eight simple sustainability tips

(© Matthew Ashmore –

Whether it’s an over-the-top light display, rolls, and rolls of wrapping paper, or throwing away piles of leftovers, the holidays can make it extra hard to live sustainably.

In order to combat the extra waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — an average of 25 percent more — the Virginia Tech Office of Sustainability would like to remind the university community that small, sustainable changes can have a huge overall impact.

Here are eight sustainability tips for a greener holiday:

  • Minimize food waste. Start by buying and making only what you need. Next, try to eat as many leftovers as possible. Finally, add any scraps to your compost, or start a new one!
  • Ditch the disposable dinnerware. While it might be tempting to avoid so many dishes after shared meals, use your regular dishware versus single-use to help reduce items going to the landfill.
  • Shop locally. Visit local merchants, artists, and businesses when shopping for gifts. Visit Blacksburg Farmer’s Market for holiday meal shopping.
  • Switch to LED holiday lighting. LED lighting strands use around 80 percent less electricity than regular holiday lights. Be sure to plug your LED lights into indoor and outdoor timers to further save on electricity costs.
  • Make your own wrapping paper. Instead of buying wrapping paper from the store (most of which cannot be recycled due to dyes and inks), get creative and make your own using newspaper, fabric scraps, or simple brown craft paper.
  • Invest in rechargeable batteries. Each rechargeable battery can be used dozens of times and keeps batteries and heavy metal out of landfills. Include these with toys and other electronics as a bonus gift.
  • Recycle your Christmas tree. If you celebrate Christmas and buy a real tree, recycle it after the holidays. Take your tree to a local landscaping or chipping facility, where it will be recycled into mulch.
  • Give sustainable gifts. Give the gift of experience to eliminate wrapping waste completely. Find sustainable stocking stuffers, such as reusable metal straws and bamboo toothbrushes. Send e-cards instead of traditional holiday cards.

“Simple changes at the holidays can really add up when it comes to being more sustainable. And getting creative when it comes to gift-giving, decorating, and dining just adds to the fun,” shares Sustainability manager Nathan King.

For more information or any questions, please contact the Office of Sustainability at

augusta free press
augusta free press