Living Green: A green holiday

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SARASOTA - The holidays are a time of giving. But they can also be a time of waste. That doesn't mean your holidays can't be green, you can not only be environmentally friendly, but also save some cash too.

When gifts are delivered in packages to your home, try to re-use those packages and the packing materials for returns. Try to use LED Christmas lights on your tree and in your decorating. Not only do they look brighter, they save up to 90-percent in energy consumption, compared to traditional incandescent lights. They also last 10 times longer and because they don't heat up, they reduce the risk of fire.

Put all your Christmas lights on a timer, both to save energy and to give you some peace of mind while you're away from home. Lots of toys and personal electronics need batteries. Buy and use re-chargeable batteries instead of the ones that wear out and end up in the trash and ultimately in our landfills forever. If Santa brings some new electronics, a TV, phone or computer, recycle and properly dispose of the old electronics.

You can drop them off at your county's household chemical collection centers.

Finally, during your time off, really experience green and take your family to a state park. We've got some great ones here on the Suncoast and they're open 365 days a year.