For Immediate Release
December 12, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE Offers Tips for a Greener Holiday

Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is letting people know how they can celebrate in a way that is friendly toward the environment.

“Each of us can help preserve our natural resources and avoid waste, even if we change just one holiday practice,” said Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE. “Carrying reusable cloth bags when we shop, giving environmentally friendly gifts and keeping gift wrap and packing to a minimum are just a few of the steps we can all take.”

Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, which amounts to an additional 1 million tons of garbage each week. Here are some environmentally smart tips for a “green” holiday season:

Shop smarter. When shopping, look for items with less packaging. Say no to plastic bags and bring your own reusable cloth bags. You can save gas by mapping your route ahead of time. If possible, select routes with fewer traffic signals and left-hand turns – both of which can mean more time spent with your engine idling at intersections.

Give “green” gifts. Homemade gifts like cookies and jams are environmentally friendly. Give gifts that produce no waste like antiques, plants, chocolates, coffees, soy-based soaps and candles, or tickets to concerts, sporting events or movies. For other green gift ideas, check these Web sites:

If giving battery-powered gifts, look for items that use rechargeable batteries. You could also give rechargeable batteries and a charger as a gift.

Buy less unneeded stuff! Give the gift of time and shared experiences instead of unneeded things. Or, donate money to a wildlife fund or charity in honor of the gift recipient.

Rethink gift wrap. If you are buying gift-wrapping paper this holiday season, look for products made with recycled paper. Used gift wrap can be recycled as long as it is actually paper and not Tyvek, foil, or plastic-backed paper. Avoid wrapping large items. If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

No more Styrofoam. If you are mailing gifts, pack them with shredded paper or newspaper, which can be recycled. You can even use popped popcorn instead of the conventional foam packing peanuts, which are not recyclable and will not biodegrade.

Switch to LED holiday lights. They may cost a little more in the beginning, but will use up to 90 percent less power, last much longer, and stay cooler.

Make your tree “green.” For tree trimmings, try edible decorations like strings of popcorn or gingerbread. Decorate your home with natural items like holly, cedar, pinecones, and fruits. And, recycle your tree. Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in landfills. Many cities and counties offer programs to turn your tree into mulch or wood chips. To find a program near you, visit

Consider sending holiday postcards to save on postage, paper and envelopes. Give homemade cards or make sure your cards are made from recycled paper, or send holiday greetings via e-mail.

Say “no” to junk mail. You are probably receiving piles of mail-order catalogs this time of year. Recycle unwanted magazines and catalogs at your local recycling center and get yourself off the mailing lists by calling 888-5-OPTOUT or visit .

Entertain with real dishes and glassware. It’s more elegant and will help you avoid disposables. Use linen napkins instead of throwing away paper ones. Cut back on electricity with candles and once guests have arrived, turn down the thermostat. Send leftover food home with your guests and recycle everything you can.

For more information about recycling and waste reduction, visit

The Green Team