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Holiday Gift Guide

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How to go green when holiday shopping

The color green is synonymous with the holiday season. But as holiday revelers deck their halls with green this season, they also can go green when shopping for loved ones.

Many shoppers are concerned by their carbon footprints. In an effort to embrace a more eco-friendly lifestyle, such shoppers may look for ways to continue their holiday traditions, but do so in a way that's more considerate of the environment. Though the holiday season is often associated with excess, holiday shoppers can still find eco-friendly ways to put smiles on their loved ones' faces this year.

* Purchase energy efficient products. The holiday season is a great time of year to find deals on major appliances, which may be on sale to make room for next year's models. When shopping for appliances this holiday season, shoppers should look for energy efficient products that consume less energy without sacrificing performance. Since the institution of its ENERGYSTAR(R) program in 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has helped consumers invest in energy-efficient products that helped reduce air pollution and energy consumption. The program has since expanded into Canada as well. When purchasing appliances this holiday season, shoppers should look for ENERGY STAR qualified products, which can protect the environment and also save consumers money on utility bills.

* Plan shopping trips in advance. The holiday season can be hectic, and as a result many holiday shoppers find themselves getting their holiday shopping done as time allows. But breaking up holiday shopping into several trips can increase fuel consumption and lead to more time spent in traffic, where vehicle emissions can contribute to air pollution. Instead of getting your shopping done on several quick trips, plan a holiday shopping trip in advance, setting aside enough time to get as much shopping done as possible in a single trip. This can cut back on some of the stress of holiday shopping and benefit the environment at the same time.

* Set up a holiday shopping carpool. Many people carpool to and from work, and such a system can be employed when holiday shopping as well. Plan a shopping trip to the mall with neighbors or friends to cut back on your fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. Sedan or coupe owners may want to limit their carpools to two people so there's enough room in the car for gifts on the way home, while minivan or SUV owners should still have ample room for multiple passengers and their presents. Remove unnecessary cargo from the trunk or other storage areas before beginning your trip.

* Create your own gifts. Worried about purchasing products with excessive packaging? Then try your hand at creating gifts instead of giving overpackaged store-bought items. Homemade gifts may be more well-received than another necktie or pair of slippers, and such gifts don't have to be packaged at all.

* Buy local. When shopping for the holiday, look for locally-produced products, whether it's arts and crafts produced at a nearby store or organic foods purchased from a local farmer's market. Locally produced products don't need to be shipped to make it onto the shelves at local stores, making such products far more eco-friendly than mass-produced products shipped from factories far away.

The holidays may not seem like an eco-friendly time of year, but shoppers can take steps to reduce their carbon footprints when shopping this holiday season.