Go Green for the Holidays

Jessica Kelly, MPH, CHES
Health Educator
Livingston and Millburn Health Department
973-535-7961 ext. 227


Go Green for the Holidays

go green


The Holidays are coming up, therefore the Livingston Health Department would like to share some tips on how you can have a greener holiday season.  Between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Eve the amount of garbage Americans throw away increases by about 25%.  There are some things that we can consider doing as we celebrate the holidays that will help conserve the environment and help those in need.

When it comes to decorating for the holidays, there are ways to decorate that are more environmentally friendly.  If you are planning on setting up a tree, consider getting a fake tree that is reusable.  If you prefer to have a real tree then see about getting a tree that you can plant outside once the holidays are over.  If you are unable to plant your tree outside, be sure to dispose of your Christmas tree properly.  The Livingston Department of Public Works will be collecting undecorated Christmas trees that are placed curbside in January.  For more information visit http://livingstontownship.org/services/recycling/how-do-i-dispose-of/christmas-trees/   To conserve energy, decorate with less or no holiday lights.  If you are decorating with holiday lights consider putting the lights on a timer or using LED lights to conserve energy.  If you’d like to have a wreath, consider making your own wreath out of pinecones or cut up holiday greeting cards.  You can also involve your children in making decorations for you such as snowflakes out of recycled paper.

Consider the gifts that you are buying people and how you plan to wrap them.  If you are giving gift cards, wrap them in another gift such as a coffee mug or a winter hat, instead of gift wrap.  You may want to save any gift bags or bows you receive to be reused to wrap gifts you give to others.  Instead of wrapping paper, you can use newspaper, magazines, a scarf or even an old tablecloth to wrap gifts.  Or you can wrap your gifts in canvas bags that are reusable instead of wrapping paper.  Also when wrapping gifts, you can reuse the fronts of holiday greeting cards you received as gift tags.  Instead of sending greeting cards in the mail, consider sending holiday greetings via email.

If you receive an electronic device as a gift such as a TV, laptop or new phone, be sure to recycle your old electronic device (visit http://livingstontownship.org/services/recycling/electronics-recycling-events/).  There are also charitable organizations that will accept donated electronic devices such as cell phones for soldiers https://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/.  If you have old children’s dvds, books, and electronics consider donating them to Kayla Cares for Kids which donates them to local hospitals to give to children.  The Livingston Police Department is a drop off for Kayla Cares for Kids.  For more information about donating and what toys/items are accepted visit https://kaylacares4kids.org/.

Gifts don’t always have to be materialistic items, but an experience can be a great gift as well such as concert tickets, memberships to businesses, a night out to dinner or a class, such as a paint night.  Another gift you can give to someone is donating to a charity in their name, such as a non-profit, hospital or local animal shelter.  There are many charitable organizations that really help those in need, just make sure the organization is reputable.  You may also decide to donate a bit of your time during the holidays by volunteering at a shelter, soup kitchen, or another organization.  Also, consider shopping “small” which means supporting our local businesses within the area which many have items that would make great gifts.

When planning your holiday meals, there are a few things you can do that will help avoid wasting food.  Determine how much food you will need based on the number of guests you have to avoid waste.  Make sure any leftover food is stored safely and be creative with how you use your leftovers.  If you have extra leftovers you don’t want to keep give some to your guests in a container to take home.  Serve food for holiday gatherings on plates and utensils that are washable and can be reused as opposed to disposable ones that create waste.  Also, consider donating food to a local food pantry or soup kitchen.  There is a local food pantry in Livingston which is organized by Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors called C.H.O.W. (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse) which provides food and meals to local families and other local food pantries.  For more information about donating to CHOW you can email lnhn07039@gmail.com.

We wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!