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Go green for the holidays

COVINGTON - Forget a White Christmas, and don't even consider having a Blue Christmas. This year, it's all about being environmentally conscious and "Going Green" for the holidays.

There are plenty of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, even during this season of excess, according to Laurie Riley with Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful.

Pre-planning is key to reducing waste, Riley said.

"When planning your menus, try to be careful in planning quantities. ... When you do have leftovers, consider offering them to elderly neighbors, to those who spend the holidays alone or to others who did not enjoy a large holiday meal of their own," Riley said in a press release.

To reduce the amount of garbage generated, set holiday tables with china instead of using disposable products, take reusable bags for grocery shopping and buy children's juice drinks in bulk containers rather than drink boxes.

Gift-giving can also be environmentally friendly.

"Give gifts that do not involve packaging, such as gift certificates, tickets or art or music lessons," Riley said.

Another option is buying last-minute gifts over the Internet to conserve gasoline and preserve air quality, while also saving time and the hassle of driving.

"Save the expense of wrapping paper by reusing comics pages from the newspaper," Riley said. "The newspaper can be recycled when the presents are opened. In some cases, you may be able to use towels or scarves to wrap presents. Some presents may not need wrapping if you can place them in a pretty box or basket that can be used again for something else. If you're planning to get or give new appliances, remember to look for the 'Energy Star' label. 'Energy Star' appliances are designed to reduce the amount of energy and/or water necessary to operate."

Other gift options that are eco-friendly are plants or trees.

"They can be lasting reminders of your kindness as they help to purify the air and make the environment stronger," Riley said.

Once the holidays are over and it's time to replace old items with the new, donate old items to charity if they are in good working condition instead of throwing them away.

"In addition to helping someone else, this practice will reduce waste in the landfill and will give you a good start on tax deductions for the new year," Riley said. "You can also recycle cardboard present boxes and plastic bottles and cans party guests leave."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.