How to enjoy an eco-friendly holiday

John Ross, Columbus Alive

December is often a time to enjoy and indulge. And, with the right tips, you can go green while soaking up the holiday cheer. Here are some ideas to consider this season.

Decorate with energy-efficient lights

Though more expensive, LED lights use far less electricity and last longer than incandescent bulbs. Some models can last up to 25,000 hours and claim to be 85 percent more efficient than traditional counterparts. Hardware stores generally sell a selection of both types.

If you're hanging outdoor lights, try a solar-powered set, which uses a small panel and a rechargeable AA battery. Visit to see various models.

Decorate a live tree

Instead of tossing your Christmas tree to the curb, buy a pine or spruce that can be planted in your yard. Live trees are a bit trickier to maintain, but they will bring joy for more than a few weeks if cared for properly. (For a step-by-step maintenance guide, see this pdf). Oakland Nurseries,, and Strader's Garden Centers,, sell them.

Wrap gifts with reusable materials

Many eco-friendly Americans have adopted furoshiki, traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, to give gifts without taking too much from the environment. These reusable soft cotton squares come in attractive patterns and can be presents themselves. Grab some at

For other wrapping options, head to Wholly Craft, 3169 N. High St. in Clintonville, from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, for a green gift-wrapping demo.

Give rechargeable batteries

About 40 percent of the nation's battery sales occur during the holidays, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Most end up in landfills and leak harmful compounds. This season power cameras, remote-control cars and other gifts with rechargeable batteries, and consider giving a charger.

Recycle or donate unused items

Last year's toy or outfit doesn't need to take up space in a landfill. Watch for special recycling drives held throughout Central Ohio around the holidays. In the meantime, a fantastic list of drop centers for various items can be found at

Other green tips

- Send greeting cards printed on recycled paper.

- Carry reusable bags on shopping trips.

- Unplug holiday lights when they aren't in use.

- Buy gifts sold with minimal packaging.