The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) encourages Mississippians to remember the environment this holiday season through waste reduction, reuse, and recycling practices to “green up” the holiday season. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of household trash increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and the New Year. MDEQ recommends considering the following “green” practices during the holiday season: Decorating IdeasConsider having a potted Christmas tree that can be replanted in the wild, in the yard, or kept and re-used the next year.Recycle Christmas trees or consider using an artificial tree that can be used every year. Discarded Christmas trees can be used for fish spawning habitats, for mulch for public landscaping projects and homeowner use, for boiler fuel, and for lake, river, and beach front stabilization. Local governments can provide information about the recycling of Christmas trees.Use trimmed branches from Christmas trees for wreaths or hearth or table decorations rather than discarding them immediately.Decorate with holly, cedar, berries, cranberries, popcorn, fruits and nuts–some which can be consumed and all of which can be composted. Gift Shopping and WrappingTake re-usable canvas tote bags for shopping and avoid using plastic bags–particularly for just one item.Consider re-using wrapping or other reusable paper when wrapping Christmas gifts. If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials that would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.Have children make their own wrapping paper by designing and coloring brown paper grocery bags, using old homework pages, old Christmas Cards, or hand drawn pictures. Grandparents will appreciate the special touch of a grandchild to any gift.Consider using commonly discarded paper items for wrapping gifts—Sunday comics, old posters, maps, discarded sheet music, and wallpaper scraps for wrapping paper.Use and re-use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.Avoid using metallic gift wrapping paper because this paper is generally not recyclable.Give gifts in canvas re-usable shopping tote bags rather than gift bags.Choose products that use less packaging material.Look for products with the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star logo. These items have been evaluated and rated for their energy efficiency. Gift IdeasGive gifts that will be consumed or used such as home-baked cookies, bread, or jams or a plant or tree that can be planted in the recipient’s yard.Consider gifts that keep on giving such as a compost bin, rain barrel, battery charger, rechargeable batteries, LED light bulbs, a perpetual calendar, or an erasable message board.Give two gifts in one by using baskets, scarves, or pillowcases to wrap gifts.Give gifts that don’t create waste such as passes to the zoo or an amusement park, music lessons, tennis, golf, or other sports lessons, memberships to an organization, tickets to a concert or movie, dinner at a restaurant, a subscription to an online magazine or newspaper, or an IOU to help rake leaves or repair a leaky faucet.Give gifts that get “used up” such as candles, soap, or seeds for the garden.Give durable toys for gifts that are made from wood or metal so that they can be passed down, even becoming collectible items.If purchasing electronic items such as a computer, television, cell phone or gaming station, find a retailer that will take back and recycle the outdated or obsolete item being replaced.Recycle obsolete electronic devices through local community recycling programs or donate computers or televisions that have useful life to community groups, local schools, or nonprofit organizations. After The HolidaysClean out the closets and donate used toys, clothing and household items to charitable organizations.Save wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons to re-use the next holiday season. Recycle as much of the leftover wrapping paper, gift boxes, bags, and gift packaging materials as possible.Make a New Year’s resolution to start a recycling program at home or at work. Contact local officials about recycling opportunities.Contact catalogs and other similar mail order circulars about removal from their mailing lists. Most of these catalogs and retail items can be found and ordered from the retailers’ websites.Compost leftovers. For more information on waste reduction, re-use and recycling programs or green holiday ideas, contact a local solid waste department, Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate, County Extension Service agent, or MDEQ. Mississippi residents seeking recycling opportunities and services in their area are also encouraged to use MDEQ’s newly-updated State Recycling Directory now available on the agency’s website. Simple, common sense steps can provide an inexpensive and enduring gift to the nation’s natural resources as well as personal savings.