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Tips for a Green Christmas

Move over, white Christmas, and make way for a “green” holiday. Here are a few tips that can make the holiday season more environmentally friendly, courtesy of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®. The Institute works to foster the discovery and design of chemical products and processes that eliminate generation and use of hazardous substances.

“Generations of moms and grandmas have been advising us to save the gift wrap on those precious packages that go under the Christmas tree and are exchanged when the Hanukah candles are lit,” noted Robert Peoples, Ph.D. He directs the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®. “Ideas like ‘sustainability’ and ‘reducing your carbon footprint’ might not have been in vogue in those days,” Peoples added. “But grandma’s was urging ‘recycle and reuse’ and that’s an excellent way to reduce your own personal carbon footprint and nudge society a little further toward sustainability.”

Other tips from the ACS and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®:

  • RECYCLE -Instead of buying everything new during the holidays, try recycling a few things like paper, ribbons, tags, bags and even used batteries. If your community offers a program to turn used Christmas trees into mulch or wood chips, use it.
  • REUSE -Rather than buying brand new wrapping paper, make your own using old newspapers, maps, or children’s artwork. Collect and reuse old bags and boxes. If you buy a live Christmas tree, plant it when the holidays are over. Try to buy only trees grown with sustainable forest practices.
  • REPURPOSE -Those old shopping bags can make colorful and roomy gift bags! Even used newspaper comics can double as unusual wrapping paper. Be creative!
  • RETHINK - Consider buying organic, locally-produced foods as well as locally-made gifts to avoid energy consumption associated with shipping. Instead of mailing greetings, send E-cards. And don’t leave outdoor holiday lights on all night.
  • REGROUP - Drop your thermostat a few degrees, don that holiday sweater and sip hot cider with family and friends saving a bit of energy while reducing green house gases.

Here’s to a cleaner, greener Holiday Season and 2010 from the 154,000 global members of the ACS! For more information about green chemistry, please visit

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