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Green is the thing this holiday season
Christmas lights are a way to show holiday spirit but they also come with a hefty electric bill. Try switching to LED lights this year and save up to 70 percent of energy, recommends to Toni Cordell, City of Turlock’s Go Green coordinator. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal
‘Tis the season to be jolly and, unfortunately with most revelers, create a lot of waste in the process. Going “green” during the holidays is not usually on most people’s “to do” list with shopping, shopping and more shopping taking priority, but making a few small changes can have a big effect on the environment.
“Holidays are the season for a lot of waste,” said Toni Cordell, City of Turlock’s Go Green coordinator. “There are a lot of simple things you can do to save waste.”
The main centerpiece for many families’ Christmas celebration is the Christmas tree, so when thinking about buying a real or an artificial tree, keep the environment in mind, recommends Cordell. She encourages those who choose to buy a real tree to be sure to recycle it after the holiday season. Turlock Scavenger offers free curbside pick-up of trees for four weeks after Christmas. They do ask that all trees be cut down to four feet in length.
If an artificial Christmas tree is more your thing, the City of Turlock recommends buying a high quality tree that can be used for a number of years and, hopefully, be passed down from generation to generation.
Another way to help the environment during Christmas is to plant a Christmas tree in the back yard, Cordell said. All it takes is one seedling that can be purchased from any nursery and the Christmas tree should be ready by the next holiday season.
After selecting the perfect tree, lights become a priority. Cordell recommends using Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights, which use extremely low energy and last longer than ordinary light bulbs, for both indoor and outdoor displays.
LED lights are a little pricier, but they can save up to 70 percent on energy, she said. LED lights are the main attraction on the Turlock Christmas tree located in Central Park, said Trina Walley, executive director of the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association. They have been using LED lights for the past three years. On Thursday, the lights on all the trees in the downtown area were also switched to LED lights.
Using LED lights has saved the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association a total of $400 a year, using 500 watts of less energy.
In the past the city and downtown association used nine watt bulbs, which was “quite the energy drainer,” Walley said. The LED lights have saved them energy and they “still give the pop” like the regular lights.
“They are a little bit more but there aren’t as many light replacements,” Walley said. “They are well worth the cost.”
Those who are unable to purchase LED lights this year can still save energy by putting their regular lights on a timer, so they are on only during the hours that someone is at home, Cordell said.
The City of Turlock also recommends using “go green” friendly ornaments,
such as popcorn and cranberry strings. Reusing ornaments year after year can also save money along with recycling old ones instead of throwing them away.  
To continue the “go green” trend, presents can be wrapped in recycled paper and gift bags can be reused, Cordell said.
Cordell also recommended buying more experience-oriented gifts like concert tickets or a spa gift card. These gifts, typically, don’t come in boxes and therefore less wrapping paper is used.
So in between buying Johnny a Nintendo Wii for Christmas and setting out cookies for Santa, remember to think about the environment.
“Just remember to recycle this holiday season,” Cordell said.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.