|Contact:||Jeaneen Zappa, County|
PITTSBURGH – Allegheny Green, the county’s comprehensive initiative to promote sustainable practices, today encouraged residents to consider the environment while celebrating the holidays this year.
“Through Allegheny Green, county government is taking steps to responsibly address our environmental impact, such as reducing our energy consumption and increasing our recycling efforts,” said Sustainability Manager Jeaneen Zappa. “During the holidays, there are a number of small steps residents can take that will also make a difference, including using LED lights to save electricity and consolidating shopping trips to save gas. I encourage everyone to do what they can to implement sustainable practices during the holiday season.”
Each year, gift wrap and shopping bags turn into more than four million tons of trash, and the 2.65 billion holiday cards sold across the United States could fill a football field 10 stories high according to Recycle Works. To reduce this impact, consider sending electronic greeting cards, reusing wrapping paper, and carrying reusable shopping bags for trips to the mall.
According to the Cygnus Group, only 20 million of the 50 million Christmas trees purchased in the United States are planted or recycled. The other 30 million end up in landfills. This year, consider buying a tree with a root bulb and planting it after the season. If you do purchase a cut tree, make sure to recycle it at the swimming pool parking lots in Boyce, North, Settler’s Cabin and South parks between January 3 and 22, 2012.
“Using less and recycling more will make a difference for our region,” added Zappa. “We’re offering tips that preserve holiday traditions, but are still mindful of the environment.
See the following list of “Tips for Going Green for the Holidays.” Learn more about the county’s green initiatives and sustainability programs at Allegheny Green.
Follow Allegheny Green on Facebook and on Twitter.
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Putting the green in your holiday celebration should be easy!
Here are some suggestions:
| ||LESS IS MORE|
Use less and throw away less stuff. Be mindful of your waste, whether it is paper, food, electricity or something else. Using less will help to lessen the impact of the holidays on both the Earth and your bank account.
If your gift is travelling around the world to get to its recipient, it probably used a lot of fuel on its trip. Support local businesses and buy fresh meat and produce from local farmers. As a result, you will get tastier food and help the planet and your neighbors by supporting their businesses.
For more information on buying local produce and meat, visit PASA Farming.
When shopping for holiday gifts this season, eco-friendly products should be at the top of everyone's list. Buy organic, recycled, sustainable, reusable and energy efficient products.
LIMIT PURCHASES WITH EXCESSIVE PACKAGING
Avoid products with excessive packaging, especially disposable ones. Reuse packaging and recycle as much of it as is possible.
Visit the Allegheny County Health Dept. Recycling Resource Directory for information.
Please remember that no one in the region is currently recycling polystyrene (Styrofoam®)
| ||RETHINK GIFT WRAP|
Rethink how you wrap gifts and get creative by making your own paper, recycling the Sunday comics or re-using last year’s gift wrap, bows and ribbons. Even better, consider wrapping gifts with something reusable, like a new tea towel or package your gift in a re-usable shopping bag tied with a pretty ribbon.
SPEND TIME, SAVE MONEY
If you are like most people these days, you are too busy and rarely spend enough time with friends and family. This year, give gift certificates that invite friends and family for a homemade meal or for something you know they would appreciate, like babysitting.
Try giving the traditional gift of baked goods or arranging a swap of “gently used” items. If your friends and family prefer a grab bag, stipulate that your items have to come from a flea market or second-hand store.
Ask your friends and families to participate in a philanthropic organization or go caroling to raise money for charity. You will be spending time together and making a difference in your community. For local ideas of where to volunteer, visit Pittsburgh Cares.
LIGHT UP RIGHT
Get smart about your energy consumption concerning holiday lights. One easy way to decorate with the environment in mind is to purchase LED lights that use 90% less energy and are readily available. If you do use lights, put them on a timer to limit energy consumption and limit the size of your display.
To reduce your waste during the holidays, think about using homemade displays or painted windows that are backlit from your lights inside.
BE ENERGY WISE WITH ELECTRONICS
Before purchasing, look up products on the Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR®website, and do not buy items that are not ENERGY STAR-rated. You should be especially careful with some of the newer television screens, which can be heavy electricity users.
Many household electronic devices, such as cordless phones, computers, printers, phone chargers, and televisions, continue to draw power even when turned off. Estimates indicate that 8% of the energy consumption in an average home is from items that are turned “off” but still plugged in. To save this energy, buy a “Smart Strip” type of power strip, which will automatically shut down the low-level power pull.
To look up products and their ENERGY STAR rating, visit Energy Star.
GO ELECTRONIC WITH GREETING CARDS
Send your friends and families e-cards, or if you do buy cards, choose ones printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based ink.
TURN DOWN THE THERMOSTAT
One of the best ways to reduce your heating consumption is to install a programmable thermostat. If you do not have one, put it on your list for Santa or do it the old-fashioned way by turning down your thermostat when you leave the house or go to bed.
GET A "GREEN" TREE
Planting a tree is one of the greenest contributions you can make, so buy a tree with its roots and plant it after the holiday season.
If you do buy a traditional cut tree, make sure that you recycle it by mulching and composting it after the holiday is over. Allegheny County sponsors a tree recycling program each year. You can drop off your tree at the swimming pool parking lots in Boyce, North, Settler’s Cabin and South parks from January 3 through 22, 2012.
BE GREENER IN 2012
This upcoming year, make a resolution to be greener and to protect our Earth. Consider making resolutions that you will actively try to keep and start out simple. Try commuting to work without your car once a week, vowing to take your reusable shopping bags to the grocery story, or always carrying your re-usable water bottle.
Sign up for a free electronic newsletter and commit to doing more green things. Visit the following websites to sign up: