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Make it a Green Holiday, Hampton Roads

Make it a Green Holiday, Hampton Roads

No-fuss, fun tips for making the season bright—and eco-friendly

It’s the most wonderful time of year, with not only visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, but also last-minute shopping lists, decorating ideas, travel logistics and holiday meal preparation. If you believe it’s hard to integrate the environmental green with your holiday green, think again. Experts at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission's environmetal awareness group,askHRgreen.org, have put together a sleigh-full of no-fuss, fun tips for making the season bright—and eco-friendly!
“It’s easy to celebrate the holidays, while being environmentally aware,” said Julia Hillegass, HRPDC Public Information and Community Affairs Administrator. “Every little bit you do, from using reusable plates and cups when entertaining to including rechargeable batteries with electronic gifts, contributes to a healthy Hampton Roads community. Make it your goal in 2012 to implement at least one of the Good Tips on www.askHRgreen.org a month.”

Make it a Green Holiday Season

• Keep reusable shopping bags in your car. You never know when you’ll have to run out for more eggnog, flour or that last minute gift. 
• Get creative and make your own wrapping paper using old paper bags, maps, your children’s artwork, extra fabric or reused tissue paper. Use twine to secure fresh sprigs of holly and pinecones for a beautiful natural look.
• Fill your house with the fresh scent that only a real tree can deliver.
• Choose reusable plates, cups and utensils when entertaining. If you have to use paper products, make sure these are made from recycled paper and plastic.
• Place a recycling bin next to your trash can where it will be easy for guests to find.
• Decorate with fewer lights or put your lights on a timer. Replace older lights with energy efficient LED strands. 
• Send e-cards and e-vites rather than paper cards. You’ll save time, money, and paper.
• If you give electronic gifts, make sure to include rechargeable batteries. If you receive electronics gifts, make sure to properly recycle your old electronics.
• Traveling with Fido? Pack old shopping bags so you can scoop the poop during travel breaks.
• After Christmas, reuse your naturally grown Christmas tree by taking the decorations off of it (including tinsel) and placing it in a quiet corner of your yard as a wildlife habitat area. Or, recycle it. Check back with www.askHRgreen.org for a list of pickup times and drop-off locations for naturally grown Christmas trees. 
• If you’re thinking of getting rid of your artificial Christmas tree, but it’s still in good shape, donate it. Many people can’t afford Christmas trees, and a donated artificial tree can help a family celebrate Christmas.

Keeping a Clean, Green Kitchen

• The best advice is not to use your garbage disposal at all. It does chop up organic matter, but bits and pieces of food particles still pass through, which can clog up your drain. If you must use it, please be mindful of its limitations.
• Don’t put food particles directly down your sink either! When washing dishes, use a strainer in your sink drain to catch any food scraps, and then throw them in the trash or into compost. Keep our water quality intact!
• For more ways to keep a clean, green kitchen visit www.askHRgreen.org.

Holiday Clean-up

• To cleanup leftover fats, oils, and grease from cooking, first locate an empty, heat-safe container with a tight lid. When the grease has cooled, pour it into the container, freeze it, and throw the hardened grease away with the trash. 
• If you have gallons of frying oil to dispose of, recycle it at your community’s transfer or recycling center. For a list of local fryer oil recycling locations visit www.askhrgreen.org/fryer-oil-recycling-locations/
• Avoid depositing other oil-based foods down the drain and garbage disposal. No-no’s include fatty substances such as lards/shortening, butter/margarine, food scraps, dairy products, batter and icing, salad dressings and sauces. For more information on ways to keep your kitchen clean and green, visit www.askHRgreen.org and click on “Your Home” for info on fats, oils and grease disposal. Remember, no cheating by dumping fats, oils, or grease in your yard. Storm water carries them into drains untreated and that’s extremely harmful to our waterways!

About askHRgreen.org

With a focus on simple steps residents can take to find their “inner green,” askHRgreen is a region-wide public awareness campaign of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the 16 cities and counties it serves. The campaign is centered on www.askHRgreen.org, a central, go-to resource for everything green in Hampton Roads. Site features include pages with easy-to-use green practices to implement in your home, yard, business, community and classroom, an interactive calendar highlighting regional events and the “Let’s Talk Green” blog, written by a team of local experts who work in the region’s municipal utility and environmental divisions.