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1996 News Releases



Release Date: 12/02/1996
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

(12/02/96) As we enter the holiday season, consumers flock to malls, department stores and outlets in droves to search for that perfect gift, that one card that says it all, that tree to end all trees. But as we feast, give gifts, decorate and travel, we also consume lots of resources and generate lots of waste. A recent report noted that the volume of household garbage in the United States generally increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, from 4 million tons to 5 million tons.

Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwaanza represent special meaning to all of us, but this year's festivities don't necessarily have to come at the cost of our environment. There are a number of measures that all of us can take to lessen the amount of trash we produce -- and the amount of time we spend on the road -- without having to put a damper on the holiday season.

    • Buy a living tree you can plant outside or keep as a houseplant after the holidays.
    • Buy a tree grown locally to save energy associated with transportation.
    • Buy a smaller tree. There's less to dispose of when you take it down, and shorter growing time translates into less land required.
    • If your town doesn't have a tree chipping/reuse system, ask why.


    • Bring your own bags on shopping trips so shops won't have to give you new ones with your purchases.
    • Don't accept a new gift box with your purchase if you have a supply of old ones, or try to wrap it without a box.
    • Use your legs or mass transit for shopping errands or catalogue shop by phone. Make a decision to patronize shops in areas you can walk or bike to, rather than the ones you have to drive to. When you need to drive, combine several errands into one trip or travel with friends.


    • Buy cards made from recycled paper (look for "post-consumer" content) and printed in non-toxic inks.
    • Buy cards and envelopes that can be recycled in your town. Choose cards printed on white stock without metallic or plastic coatings.
    • Buy cards wrapped in the least bulky or most recyclable packaging. Consider substituting postcards for cards that require envelopes.
    • Reuse the fronts of old holiday cards as gift tags.


    • Decorate with more energy efficient mini-lights rather than the larger, old fashioned lights. Turn them on only when someone's around to appreciate them. This practice also reduces fire hazards.
    • Wrap gifts using old newspapers or paper bags.
    • Avoid foil and plastic-embossed paper because it uses more resources in its manufacturing process.
    • When you're not enjoying a fire in your fireplace, close the flue and block the hearth to prevent heat loss.


    • Store leftovers in reusable containers.
    • Buy food gifts with as little packaging and processing involved as possible.
    • Last but not least, try to recycle glass bottles and aluminum cans after the festivities.
Please keep in mind that you can incorporate pollution prevention practices into your daily routine without sacrificing the spirit of the holidays. The tips listed above constitute only a fraction of the hundreds of everyday procedures we can follow to protect our environment. For more information on pollution prevention, or environmental protection in general, call the EPA information line at 1(800)759-4372, or check out our web site at "http:\\\region01". Have a joyous holiday season