The holidays are a time for family and celebration and these festivities also negatively impact the environment. From the millions decorations that must be disposed of, to the tons of gift wrappers and increase in energy usage to keep the colored lights blinking and dancing, the holidays cause a lot of damage. But hey! Small changes can make a huge difference.

So here are some simple ways for you to cut waste, conserve energy and otherwise be green during this holiday season. Many of the ideas can be used year-round!

Green Tip 1 Why spend more on new Holiday knick-knacks when you can make your own out of recycled materials?

You’ll be surprised at what you can make out of unwanted items hidden away in your household. Try making hanging lanterns using old jars and wire, hand cut paper snowflakes out of newspaper, or even Christmas Tree ornaments with the ribbons and cards from last year’s gifts. This is a great way to test your creativity and celebrate an eco-friendly Yuletide season.

Green tip 2 Is the Yuletide season still a time for giving, or has it become a time for spending?

The consumerist aspect of the holidays is getting in the way of the things that truly make this season special. This year, why not offer service instead? Volunteer to do relief work, or write up personalized coupons—redeemable favors such as doing the dishes or walking the dog—for your loved ones.

In fact, you can even go all out and challenge the obsessions of our consumer societies by joining the Buy Nothing movement

Green tip 3It’s easy to be bedazzled by the blinking and dancing Christmas lights that we see, forgetting that this means additional energy use.

Using energy efficient Christmas lights hits two goals in one step: cutting down on energy use and savings on energy costs. One good way to do this is to use LED (light emitting diode) Christmas lights. They may be a little more expensive than incandescent lights but they definitely consume less energy. Plus, they last longer too. That means you get to keep your Christmas lights for more Christmas seasons, giving you more savings in the long run. You also reduce the amount of waste to be disposed, another step in being more environment-friendly.

There are additional ways to reduce energy consumption during Christmas season. You can combine your Christmas lights with the following to reduce energy consumption:
• Timers – control how long your lights are on and turn them off when you are not home.
• Extension cords – instead of using light strings to add length to your display, utilize extension cords in less visible areas.

Green tip 4If you cannot help it and you think that buying someone a gift is a sure way to express your appreciation for someone (instead of offering acts of kindness, Green Holiday Tip #2), then opt for eco-friendly gifts.

Whether it’s a journal with hand-made paper for your friend, a hand-woven skirt by Ifugao mothers for your sister, or a folding bike for your brother, keep in mind that there are many ways to show both kindness and appreciation for your loved ones and love for the environment.

Better yet, avoid the malls when doing your Christmas shopping. Instead opt for bazaars, trade fairs, and weekend markets that offer the best local products that consider the environment, fair trade, and local artists and craftsmen in the production. Many of them also pledge to donate part of their profits to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts for our brothers and sisters affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

 Green tip 5 You wouldn’t want to get your loved ones clothes that have hazardous chemicals on them.

You want to give them garments they can proudly wear, brought to us by companies that care about the environment as much as their brand’s names. We’re talking about the Detox #Leaders – companies spearheading the path to a toxic-free future.

Use your power as a consumer by supporting brands that are honest and are truly working to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals into our water. Explore the #DetoxCatwalk now.

 Green tip 6 Use Guide to Greener Electronics to ask questions about the environmental impact of electronic products.

With the Christmas bonus in your hands, you can always think of a thousand ways to justify the need for a new gadget. You don’t need to be a techie to know which electronic products are “green.” You just need to check out the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics.

Remember however, that the most sustainable devices are the ones you don’t actually buy! Work to extend the life of your existing electronic gadgets and only purchase what you truly need.

 Green tips 7 FACT: It takes 1.3 kg of coal to produce 1 kg of wrapping paper, and the manufacturing process emits 3.5 kg of CO2 — and that excludes the carbon footprint of packaging and then transporting the wrapping paper around the country.

We encourage you to use reusable and/or personalized gift-wraps instead. Rather than buying new gift boxes, why not encase your goodies in used cans or cylinders you painted yourself? You can even wrap your present in a scarf or handkerchief; this way, the wrapper itself can be part of your gift.

 Green tips 8 The Christmas holidays are one of those long holidays that travelers look forward to every year. But do you know that traveling adds to your carbon footprint especially when you ride a plane, use disposable utensils for eating, and stay at posh resorts?

Be a responsible traveler this holiday season. Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and check out this green travel tips before you go on holiday!

 Green tips 9 It’s exactly a week before Christmas! Have you done your shopping for Noche Buena? If not, here’s something to consider: Why not do your shopping at the nearest organic market and try to come up with a Noche Buena feast made from organic and GMO-free food?

You can also ask your friends to do the same and have a challenge on who can come up with the most number of healthy ingredients on their Noche Buena table. Remember, you can have a healthy and environment-friendly Noche Buena for your friends and family.

Green tip 10Impress your friends and family this year with a low-cost, creative, green holiday bash. Here are some suggestions on how you can upgrade your traditional gathering into an Earth-friendly one:

• Use electronic invitations to get the word out
• Set the ambiance with personalized decors out of recycled materials (get creative!), and energy-efficient LED fairy lights
• Start the party early to make use of natural light
• Serve organic dishes made from fresh food bought from the local market. Food from the markets generally has less packaging than supermarket foods and has not travelled as far
• Use reusable dinnerware instead of disposables as much as possible
• Place clearly marked recycling and non-recycling bins out for your guests