The Holiday season is notorious for using a lot of natural resources. Between traveling to visit loved ones,  lights, presents, elaborate meal preparations and holiday parties, there’s really no way to avoid it completely.  That being said, there are many little things you can do to stay green over the holidays.

1)      Turn off your lights

We all enjoy sparkling Christmas lights in the wintertime, whether they’re decorating the houses that line our streets, or the Christmas trees in our living rooms. But beautiful as they are, they use a ton of energy.  Leave your outside lights off during the day, and invest in a timer that will turn them on automatically at 5pm and off at midnight. For your inside lights, make sure to unplug them before you go to bed.

2)      Wrap wisely

The wrapping on your presents can be half the fun! Make sure you’re using paper that is recyclable or better still, made from recyclable material. Retailers like Amazon and Greenfield Paper sell paper that is made from 100% recycled materials.

3)      Reuse gift bags

I have a closet full of old gift bags that I couldn’t bear to toss after opening the gift. Chances are you have some too. Re-use them! The large majority are still in perfect condition after one use. Another idea is to use shopping bags as gift bags. Fooling family and friends into thinking they know what you got them is an added perk!

4)      Send e-cards

Holiday cards are a staple of the season.  Traditional cards use endless amounts of paper, not to mention the time it takes to make them. Send an e-card instead! Not only will you save time, and money on postage, but you’ll also have the energy to send your card to more people you care about.  And if you must send a paper card, try Tiny Prints, as they focus on smaller cards, or any online cardmaker, which will allow you to avoid buying cards and printing pictures to go inside the cards.

5)      Give gift cards

For family and friends in your immediate area, gifts of whatever size are fine, as you can take the gift with you when you go to see them.  For loved ones that are further away, consider sending a gift card, it will cut down significantly on packaging, and fuel used to transport it.

There are countless ways to conserve energy and resources during the holiday season. These are simply five of my ideas to help get you started. I’m not an expert by any means, just a Seattle native who cares about the environment. Every little bit helps. Happy Holidays!

Morgan Pinckney is a senior at the George Washington University, majoring in Communication with a minor in Women’s Studies.  She is an admitted Starbucks addict, cupcake lover and all around foodie.  She studied abroad in Paris, her favorite city in the world. After graduation she hopes to pursue a masters degree in Global Communication or a job in Public Relations.