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Ring in a sustainable holiday season

The holidays are upon us and, with the festivities, often come an increase in the amount of garbage we all produce in our homes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day than during any other time of the year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons. Not only do we produce more trash, but making holidays bright can lead to increased energy usage and the potential for higher electricity bills. Here are some tips to reduce your holiday eco-footprint and increase sustainability in your home.

- Look for LED holiday lights, and find local recycling programs to dispose of inefficient lights. Retailers like Home Depot and Lowes usually take old light strings during the holidays.

- For parties, use metal flatware, real glasses and dishes, as well as reusable tablecloth.

- Remember to bring your own bags to the grocery store to reduce plastic bag use

- Consider sending e-cards of recycled holiday greeting cards - re-fashion old cards into holiday gift tags. It is said that nearly 1.9 billion cards are sent each holiday season - can you imagine the environmental impact?

- Purchase rechargeable batteries for toys and electronic gifts

- Make edible gifts and purchase non-material gifts to reduce waste, such as an experience like a show or a spa day, or tickets to a museum

Carry some of these practices into your new year's party, birthdays, office parties, and other celebratory events. As you're trying out some of these new sustainable holiday traditions, consider making a sustainable new year's resolution - one that takes one small step to reduce impact in your everyday life. Happy holidays to all, and cheers to ringing in a sustainable holiday season!