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The Twelve Sustainable Days of the Holiday Season

On the first day:

Put a timer on all outside and inside holiday lights. Do you really want to go outside and/or crawl behind the recliner to unplug the lights right before you go to bed?

On the second day:

Replace at least one incandescent and/or holiday light strand with LEDs.  LEDs are durable and efficient and save money during the life of the bulb. For a cost comparison of incandescent, LEDs and CFL bulbs go to http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html.

On the third day:

Buy a live tree with or without the roots.

  1. replant it
  2. repot it or
  3. mulch it

On the fourth day:

Try to pick gifts that do not require batteries or at least use rechargeable batteries when needed.

On the fifth day:

Nix the disposable containers or plates for gatherings. Make washing the dishes a game or a competition for your guests. Start a dishwashing conga line.

On the sixth day:

Instead of giving gifts to everyone in the extended family, draw names! This cuts back on cost and stress.

On the seventh day: 

Shop for gifts at resale shops. Unique gifts and decorations can be found there and you are reusing.

On the eighth day:

Instead of a gift, donate money to your recipient’s favorite charity.

On the ninth day: 

Decorate your yard with hand-made exterior decorations that attract birds using bird seed/peanut butter (with corn meal) and or suet. For ideas, go to

On the tenth day:

Use the Sunday comics to wrap gifts, especially large ones. What’s better than “free” wrapping paper!

On the eleventh day:

Minimize waste! Reduce, reuse or recycle as much as possible during the holidays. Holiday recycling tips are often available online. For examples, see the links below:

On the twelfth day:

Reuse old greeting cards for crafts or donate them to charity. For more information, go to the following links:

Need more than 12 green holiday tips?  Here is more information to ensure a green holiday season:

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The DENR Sustainability Team is composed of representatives from 27 DENR divisions, offices and programs. Its mission is "to inspire a culture of sustainability within DENR by promoting environmentally responsible actions." More information on DENR Sustainability is available at portal.ncdenr.org/web/sustainability/home
Information on sustainability in buildings and lands in North Carolina is available on the state sustainability team NC Project Green website, www.ncprojectgreen.org.
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