A holly, jolly and green Christmas - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A holly, jolly and green Christmas

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's also one of the most wasteful. Bright lights. Rolls of wrapping paper. Lots of leftovers. It's no wonder we toss one million extra tons of trash per week during the holidays.

But there are simple steps you can take to cut back. And Leah Ingram has plenty of ideas to spread green cheer.

"365 days a year I'm trying to reduce what I'm throwing out. I am recycling I am reusing," Ingram said.

During the holidays, she kicks it into high gear, shredding old paper to store ornaments and re-using ribbon to decorate her home.

"One of the things that we did last year was to use re-usable bags to wrap the gifts," she said.

Her goal? To toss less trash.  Americans produce 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.

Paul McRandle with the Green Guide says with a little tweaking, you can give a gift to the planet this season, starting with an eco-friendly evergreen.

One option is a potted tree from a local nursery or find a freshly cut tree grown with reduced pesticides.

You can spice it up by hanging some homemade gingerbread men.

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are the authors of Celebrate Green! and say eco-friendly ornaments aren't just fun to look at.

They suggest decorating with things like cookie cutters, antiques, and old buttons.

You can even cut back with traditional Christmas lights. LED lights use 1/8 of the energy that standard bulbs do. Or lighten up the mood with clean burning, beeswax candles.

For the table, stuff toilet paper rolls with holiday candy and wrap with recycled paper. Guests can crack them open for a sweet surprise.

You can also trim your "waste" line at dinner by purchasing local vegetables and organic meats.

Leah Colwell composts leftover food scraps, then uses the mixture in her garden. She says that going green has cut her trash consumpton in half.

For more eco-friendly holiday tips, check out Leah's blog, LeanGreenFamily.com.

Online Reporter: Chris Carter

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