UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, December 2014

5 Tips for Greening the Holidays

GlobeThe familiar saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” is a mantra that is alive and well at UCSF.  The holidays are a perfect time to look for opportunities to creatively reuse items and give new life to items, rather than discard them, as well as to eat greener and healthier.  Holiday festivities can consume a lot of resources and create a lot of waste. The EPA estimates that the amount of household garbage in the United States can increase by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Here are five tips for a greener holiday:

  • #1 Give Back:  UCSF is now hosting a collection drive for the SF Food Bank with donation barrels at each Fitness & Recreation Center.  You can drop off your non-perishable food items in the lobby until December 12.  Ideal items include: rice, pasta, canned items, tuna, peanut butter, and cereal.

  • #2 Buy Antibiotic-Free Turkeys:  UCSF has made a commitment to purchase more meat that is antibiotic free and the holiday is an opportunity for you to purchase cleaner, healthier meat.  As reported by Treehugger, “antibiotic resistance is on the rise, and is due in no small part to the role that antibiotic overuse plays in meat production.”  One easy way to avoid antibiotics in your meat is to buy organic.  Adherence to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic rules prohibit antibiotic use on livestock and must be verified on-site by an independent accredited certifier, providing a high level of confidence that any meat or poultry labeled “USDA Organic” comes from animals that never have been given any antibiotics.  You can also shop for local, sustainable food at the UCSF Farmers’ Markets.  The Mission Bay Farmers’ Market and the Parnassus Farmers’ Market are open year round.

  • #3 Consider Alternatives to Office Gifts:  Bake treats or have a white elephant gift exchange with co-workers instead of purchasing new items for gifts.  Check out Yerdle, whose mission is to reduce the durable consumer goods we all need to buy by 25 percent.

  • Simplify
  • #4 Green your Holiday Party:  There are some easy steps you can take to green your holiday party, including pick the right location, incorporate recycling and composting, support UCSF vendors, use reusables, and ban bottled water. Check out the UCSF Sustainability LivingGreen Event checklist for more ideas on how to green your holiday gathering.

  • #5 Green the Holidays at Home:  The Center for a New American Dream has some great tips for simplifying the holidays at home.  One tip is to create a coupon book of personal services, rather than buying stuff.  Consider signing up for SunShares, which will provide you a free assessment of solar on your home through December 30th.  For more tips on greening the holidays at home, check out this month’s video.