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Go green for the holidays
conservation corner
One way to have a more sustainable holiday is to reuse the fronts of old Christmas cards as postcards or gift tags. - photo by Photo Contributed

Are you one of those organized people who is already prepared for the coming winter holidays? Or do you still have plans to make and gifts to buy? Either way, why not take a second look at some of your usual holiday activities to see if you can make them more “sustainable?”

For many of us, our priority during the holidays is to spend time with family and friends. But the holidays can also be a time when we spend too much and create too much waste.

Consider these statistics:

·         Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

·          If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

·         About 35 percent of Americans have an unused Christmas present collecting dust in their closets.

If you want to incorporate sustainability into your holiday celebrations, we have a list of suggestions for you. Some of them may spark your creativity—and even be fun!


·         Buy an artificial tree that you can use for years to come; make the most energy efficient choice. Safety and energy-efficiency should always be considered first.

·         Buy a living tree you can plant outside or keep as a houseplant after the holidays.

·         Dispose of your Christmas tree in the green organics cart, or by placing on the street if it is too large to fit.  The green cart waste is composted at a local facility and is not placed in the landfill.


·         Consider using few or no lights in your holiday decorations.

·         Decorate with more energy efficient LED strings.

·         Plug your decorative indoor and outdoor lights into a timer to save electricity.


·         Take your own bags on shopping trips. Keep them in the car so they’re always available.

·         Conserve energy when shopping by combining several trips in one, using mass transit, or carpooling.

·         Give gifts that are durable, energy-efficient, recyclable, or made of natural products. Purchase gifts that are fair-trade, locally made or grown, or organically grown.

·         Support your local economy by buying from local merchants, craft shows, or antique shops.

·         Make your own gifts: knit, sew, bake, build, or create art; make calendars using your own photographs or a recipe book with favorite recipes.

·         Give in ways that also support your community: tickets to local theater performances, concerts, sports events, local attractions; museum memberships; gift certificates for a massage at a local spa, horseback riding, or a rock climbing lesson.

·         Give your time and skill—coupons for household chores, meals, gardening, cleaning, window washing, car detailing, scheduled dog walks, or lessons in computer or smartphone use for senior citizens.

·         Donate to a charity or service organization in the name of a friend of relative who supports that cause.

·         Use creative materials for gift wrap, such as scarves, fabric or handkerchiefs.

·         Save resources with your holiday cards, for instance:

o   Send email cards or make your own.

o   Buy cards made from “post-consumer” content and printed in non-toxic inks.

o   Reuse the fronts of old cards as holiday postcards or gift tags.

o   Give cards that are eco-friendly.


·         If you must provide batteries for a gift, be sure to buy rechargeable ones. if you are giving electronics, choose energy-saving items.

Why not choose a few of these ideas that will be easy for you to incorporate into your holiday celebration? Not only will you contribute to sustainability and health, but chances are you will also simplify your life. And you may get more of what we all need at this time of year—time to enjoy family and friends and to focus on the joys of the season.

For more information on how to conserve resources during the holidays, visit the City of Turlock’s website at Brought to you by the City of Turlock Municipal Services Department.



Report over-watering and water waste: Please report over-watering and water waste to the City of Turlock’s Municipal Services Department.  This can be done in a number of ways: 1. Call Municipal Services at (209) 668-5590; 2. Email: Be sure to include the location, date, time, and nature of complaint; 3. Go to the City of Turlock’s website and report water waste online: