Ten Holiday Green Tips

Quality time with family and friends, festive decorations and whirlwind shopping are important parts of the holiday season. With a few smart choices, you can do all of these things and help fight global warming. Here's how.

1. The early bird ... cuts pollution? It's true: Do your online and catalog shopping early and you'll be able to request ground shipment. Ground shipping is six times more efficient than overnight air shipping. It saves fuel and reduces global warming pollution.

2. Holiday lights are a fun way to make your home feel festive, inside and out. But to save energy, remember to turn them off when you're not at home and before you go to sleep. Shopping for new lights? Energy-efficient LED lights are the best choice, and they're now available at most major retailers. LED holiday lights use about 90 percent less energy than conventional lights. They'll help make the season bright while substantially lowering your holiday electric bill.

3. Hoping to unwrap a computer, TV, washing machine or dishwasher this year? Make sure your loved ones know about the Energy Star label. Home appliances and electronics bearing this label must exceed minimum standards for energy consumption; an Energy Star appliance can lower your utility bills and help reduce the heat-trapping pollution that causes global warming at the same time. (See NRDC's green guides to learn more about energy-efficient appliances and saving energy at home.)

4. Stumped on a gift for that neighbor or second cousin? How about a hand-cranked radio or flashlight? They're climate friendly, and outdoorsy types swear by 'em -- no need to worry about batteries. For these and other "green gifts," see our environmental gift guide.

5. When you're stocking up for a holiday feast, look for products that go easy on the packaging, or come in reusable or recyclable wrapping. You'll save the energy that would be used to manufacture and ship the excess packaging, and shrink your personal contribution to global warming.

6. Put a hybrid car on your wish list this year! It might be a long shot, but if it works out you'll get a shiny new car and the satisfaction that you're really making a difference. A hybrid car saves big money at the pump, and is much more climate friendly than the car it replaces. See NRDC's Hybrid Guide for more information about what's on the market, and the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide for environmental performance ratings.

7. Remember to recycle. Holiday entertaining can leave behind lots of cans, bottles and cardboard. Recycle whatever you can in your area to make your home more climate smart. Use recycled paper to wrap your presents. Or if you're feeling artistic, don't buy gift wrap at all. Get creative with old newspapers and magazines, and you'll add a little extra personalization to each present. And be sure to recycle your Christmas tree, which can be turned into mulch for the spring. Go to Earth911 to find a local tree recycler in your area.

8. Beat the traffic while doing your holiday shopping -- share a ride or take public transit. If you must drive to get to the shops, bring a friend or two along. Cars are responsible for 20 percent of the CO2 pollution the United States produces, so carpooling really helps. (And you'll get to swap gift ideas with your shopping buddies.)

9. Instead of mailing holiday cards and letters to your loved ones, try using email. You'll save paper -- and the carbon-sequestering trees it is made from -- and reduce emissions from delivery vehicles. You'll reach your friends and family faster, too. While you're at it, browse through NRDC's Earth Action Center and send a heart-warming message to your elected officials expressing your concern about global warming, air pollution and other environmental issues. And subscribe to Earth Action, NRDC's biweekly email alert, to continue to make a difference when it counts.

10. Another way you can make a difference is with a gift to NRDC. NRDC has been a leader on air pollution and energy issues for decades, and today we are spearheading efforts to reduce global warming pollution in the United States and internationally. An NRDC membership comes with a handy tote bag to help cut back on disposable bags and a subscription to "Nature's Voice," our colorful bulletin with updates on NRDC campaigns that your contribution is supporting. A membership makes a great gift for an environmentally conscious friend or relative, or a great treat for yourself -- either way, you're giving the earth a gift too.

Tips provided by the NRDC.