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GREEN TIP: Christmas doesn’t have to be a drain on our planet. We can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season with a little effort and imagination.

Here are some tips to help you celebrate the season while caring for the environment:

Greener Gifts

  • Look for locally made gifts. Many products you find in big box stores come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes greatly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation. And they are a way to give back to your local community.
    • Eco Chic Boutique – a green boutique specializing in eco-friendly, locally made, vintage and re-purposed items.
    • Unglued Craft Fest – a boutique featuring handmade items from the best local and regional artists, crafters, and makers. Also, vintage wares, creative workshops, and cupcakes from Bakeology and brewed coffee from Peace Coffee.
  • Look for gifts made from recycled sources. Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials. Some ideas:
    • The Green Glass Company – the largest producer of reclaimed glassware in the world, located in Wisconsin.
    • Uncommon Goods – an online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices including many handmade and gifts with recycled content.
  • Look for battery-free gifts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually.
  • Look for gifts that help make living green a little easier. For example, an awesome canvas bag for the man in your life like this one from which reads, “Real Men Don’t Carry Paper of Plastic”.

Greener Holiday Lighting

The house with the most lights used to be the ‘best’. Times have changed. The cost of electricity goes way beyond the utility bill. Electricity drains natural resources.

  • Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays. A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive, and more appropriate in the ‘season of giving’.
  • Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting. LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
  • Turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting off at bedtime. It’s a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone has gone to sleep.

Remember, never install lights with the power on. Test lights first, then unplug to install.


My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Sustainable Baby Steps

This awesome site is full of great tips for getting you on the road to sustainable living. Sustainable Baby Steps is dedicated to guiding you to go green, save money and live healthy without stress, without needless spending and without overwhelming information.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~ John Muir

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: As you plan your Thanksgiving or Christmas Dream carholiday road trips, keep in mind that driving and maintaining your vehicle properly can increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and decrease your gas costs.

Our friends at Traveling Greener have put together some ways to practice more fuel-efficient driving, creating less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, just in time for the holidays.

Planning your trip:

  • Get a customized map with low gas prices along the route. Because getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. provides fuel economy estimates, energy and environmental impact ratings, fuel-saving tips, and other useful information. is a network of more than 200 website designed to help you find the lowest gasoline prices.

MapQuest: Gas Prices includes maps of gas locations.

  • Choose the right vehicle. If your family has more than one vehicle, drive the car that gets better gas mileage.
  • Drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.
  • Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public transportation to your destination.
  • Explore new ways to get around at your destination. Find information on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles.

Preparing your vehicle:

  • Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by around 3%.
  • Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.
  • Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

On the road: Driving Tips

  • Decrease your speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents or more per gallon for gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% in town.
  • Use cruise control and overdrive gear. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and reduces engine wear.
  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to improve fuel economy.
  • Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Fill up before returning a rental car. Rental car companies charge higher gas prices if you don’t fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. Also save your gas receipts as proof.”

For more money saving tips and resources, go to The less gasoline used, the less money we pay, the less pollution we create, and the more we protect our planet.

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

The International Ecotourism Society
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) unites conservation, communities and sustainable travel. TIES promotes responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at


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