8 Ways to Green Your Winter Break


by WFAA Project Green


Posted on February 5, 2010 at 12:56 PM


Trey Granger / Earth 911


For most students, winter break is a chance to catch up on TV shows, home cooking and the latest gossip from childhood friends. But it can also be a time for learning more about helping the environment, and taking simple steps to go green during your time off.

With that in mind, Earth 911 presents eight ways to green your life during winter break:

Recycle Your Old Papers

When finals are over, you might wonder when is the next time you’ll even think about microeconomics. However, chances are you have pages of notes from class, not to mention handouts and exams that you aren’t planning to use anymore.

Over 50 percent of paper is currently recycled in the United States, but you could easily burn through hundreds of pages for each class in a given semester. If you want to know the nearest location to recycle paper in your area, use the recycling locator search at the top of this page.

Also consider reusing some of this paper for friends who will be taking these classes next semester. Your notes and handouts can provide great study guides for other students. The same can be said for textbooks.

Green Your Garage

The average garage has about 100 pounds of household hazardous waste (HHW). This can include old electronics, paint, cleaning supplies or car care products, all of which are dangerous to the environment if disposed of improperly.

Although there may not be an HHW collection event in your area during winter break (search in the recycling locator above to find out), your time off during winter break is a perfect opportunity to start sorting these products. Organizing your garage may seem like the last thing you want to do during your time off, but it will pay dividends for your family (and the environment) in the long run.

Shop Online

You’ve probably been so busy with school lately that you haven’t found the time to shop for holiday gifts yet. Instead of jumping in the car and consuming energy for your last-minute shopping, consult the Internet for your shopping needs.

Most of the stores you would visit will have Web sites to buy products anyway, and you can often find shipping specials during the holidays. Just remember to recycle the packaging that your shipped gifts come with.

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Put your newfound knowledge of statistics and calculus to work without even using a scientific calculator. Your carbon footprint will show you the impact that your daily activities are having on the environment; the EPA has an in-depth program to show your individual and household impact.

Don’t get frustrated by your ultimate score on this “test;” it’s not the green SAT. More importantly, it provides you an opportunity to think about areas where you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Do Some Green Reading

There are countless books that cover environmental issues, many of which will be available at your public library (the ultimate resource for reuse). Earth 911’s student section provides a list of several books catered toward a student audience.

The environment is expected to play a larger role in the 2008 Presidential election, so first-time voters should do their part to read up and learn the background on these issues before campaigning kicks into high gear in March 2008.

Check Out E-Textbooks Next Semester

We’ve already mentioned that paper recycling and reuse is important, but why not reduce your paper consumption in the first place? An eco-friendly alternative is the e-textbook, which takes hundreds of pages and puts them in an electronic format to cut down on tree use.

You can find thousands of e-textbooks online, while also reducing the cost you pay at the bookstore. One good option for e-textbooks is CafeScribe.

Go Green in Bundles

Winter weather means increased energy use, but an eco-friendly way to keep environmental (and financial) energy costs down this winter is to bundle up. Wear heavy sweaters in the house so you don’t have to crank the heat or light a fire, and make sure you wear a jacket so you don’t have to run the car heater.

Keep some blankets around the house to keep you warm when the temperatures really drop. Also enjoy some holiday cold weather favorites, like egg nog and hot chocolate.

Create Green Year Resolutions

Your winter break won’t end until 2008 rolls around, so why not incorporate the environment into your New Year’s resolutions this year? One great idea is to commit to recycling this year, perhaps by setting up a recycling program at school. Your carbon footprint calculation will also come in handy when planning these resolutions.

The trick is to make sure that your resolutions are reasonable enough that you’ll be able to keep them. If you decide to start walking to campus everyday, allow yourself enough time in the morning so you don’t end up driving by default.

You can even incorporate green ideas into some New Year’s resolutions favorites. If you want to eat healthier in 2008, look for organic foods and compost your food scraps.

Winter break should be about rewarding yourself for a successful year of school, but you also have plenty of time to think green. No matter how old you are or how far along in school, it’s not ever to late to get a green education.