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December 2012 - In This Issue
Trade in Your Xmas Lights
Where to Recycle Trees
Save Money.. Send E-Cards!
LEDs vs. Incandescents
Green Business Challenge Tips
Tips to Green Your Holidays
Bike Share Poll Results

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For energy-saving tips, upcoming events, and more!
Join the Challenge!

Check out updates with our Green Business Challenge and see how El Paso businesses are working to become more sustainable. 
To sign up, please call 915-541-4468 or email
YES You CAN Recycle Your Wrapping Paper
Any wrapping paper that feels like paper--generally the less expensive, thinner papers--ARE recyclable. 
The shinier, foil wrapping paper is NOT recyclable. The paper that is slightly reflective and feels smoother and waxier is also not recyclable. 
These are all NOT shiny and feel like thin paper, thus they ARE recyclable 
Try to keep this in mind when you are opening up presents this holiday season. Give the hard-working recycling plant sorters a Christmas present this year by not making them sort through your non-recyclables 
Give the Gift of Fuzzy Feelings this Holiday Season
Can't figure out what gift to buy for the dad who has everything? Consider giving a donation to a local food drive or crisis center in your dad or mom's name. If they truly don't want any new gadgets this holiday season, give them the gift of knowing that they helped someone else. 
Consider participating in an "adopt a family" or an "adopt a soldier" fundraiser and spend the money you WOULD have spent on a foot massager for your dad and put it towards diapers and fresh fruit and vegetables for a family in need. 
Trade in Your Old Christmas Lights and Get a Discount!
Get 'em while they're hot! 
LED lights are flying off the shelves this year, according to Home Depot and Lowe's employees. Only a few boxes of LEDs remain, and they will not be ordering any more before Christmas.
This is probably because both Home Depot and Lowe's are offering a trade-in deal for holiday shoppers--if you 
Photo courtesy of Google Images
bring in your old Christmas lights (working or not) they will give you a discount on the more energy-efficient LED lights.
Lowe's is offering 10% off LED lights and Home Depot
is offering up to $5 off your new LED purchase  when you trade in your old Christmas lights. 
Test Your Green Knowledge

How much can you save?

Click on the picture above to take our survey. Once your answer is submitted, you can see how everyone else answered, and then you can access the answer here 
'Tis the Season to Recycle your Trees!

After Christmas this year, bring your cut Christmas Trees to one these five locations to be recycled:
  • 4200 Delta
  • 121 Atlantic
  • 1034 Pendale
  • 2492 Harrison
  • 4501 Hondo Pass
Starting December 26, come by any time between 8 AM and 4 PM. 

Mulch produced through this recycling program will be available to residential customers at no charge. For more information, visit our website or call 621-6700.
Saving the Green in Your Wallet
Instead of spending money on expensive Christmas cards, why not send out e-cards?
Emailing greeting cards is becoming more and more popular because it's free and it's a very eco-friendly option. You will save money on postage, gas to the card store, ink, cards (if you buy them premade), cardstock and envelopes. 
Instead of sending out fifty cards, type a letter with updates about your family. You can create a beautiful Word document, complete with your children's accomplishments this year and pictures from your most exciting family vacation. 
When you have finished, convert your Word document to a PDF to avoid cross-compatibility issues (between newer and older, and different brand computers). Your result will be a unique, personal greeting to your friends and family for the holidays.
Don't have everyone's emails? Ask them! Create an email contact list for the years to come. Save yourself the time and money and create eco-friendly holiday e-cards this season! 
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'Tis the Season to be Green!

In this December issue of Green Matters you will find information about where to recycle Christmas trees, ideas for eco-friendly holiday gifts, and how to cut down on energy and paper use this holiday season. 

We welcome your feedback about our newsletter, so please feel free to contact us. Also, I would like to welcome aboard Lauren Baldwin, Sustainability Program Specialist, who will be managing the newsletter in the future.
Marty Howell
Director of Economic Development and Sustainability 
City of El Paso
What are LEDs and How Do They Differ from Conventional Christmas Lights?
LED Christmas Lights: Prettier, Cheaper, Safer
LED Christmas Lights: Prettier, Cheaper, Safer - 
Video Courtesy of
Not only will they save you money on your energy bill, but you can worry less about those hot little bulbs setting your tree aflame this season. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are a safer, sturdier alternative to conventional Christmas lights: "The old style incandescent lights use electrical filaments and they generate quite a bit of heat. LED lights use electron movement in tiny semi-conductors," notes the reporter.
Photo courtesy of Google Images
Also, LED lights are less likely to break because"they're encased in hard plastic so they're much more rugged, the reporter adds." 
Compared to conventional lights which can add about $10 to your energy bill, "You can light up your holiday tree for less than 20 cents for the entire season," reports the The Electric Power Research Institute. 
LED lights may be a little pricier at checkout, but will save you big in the long run: "LEDs use 80% less electricity than the standard incandescent bulbs," mentions Dustin Nielsen, Master Electrician at Home Depot. Just be sure to always look for the blue Energy Star logo to be sure your product is certified.
On a safety note, switching to LEDs will decrease your chance of home fires. Furthermore, to prevent holiday fires in your home, use nonflammable decorations; do not overload electrical sockets; regularly water Christmas trees; and avoid the use of lit candles. As you should do year-round, ensure that your smoke alarms are working properly (
Happy Holidays Green Business Challenge Participants! 
For those businesses involved in our Green Business Challenge, we will not be holding a workshop this month. Instead we hope that you read through this newsletter and update your scorecard! 
For those NOT involved in the Green Business Challenge, consider joining, or ask your company to consider the changes below.
Here's a few tips on how to excel throughout the holidays:

  1. Establish a Green Team to motivate others and develop guidelines for employees (20 points). You could give them incentives to join, such as casual Christmas sweater Monday and Friday.
  2. Replace 50% of your paper stock with post-consumer recycled paper (10 points). 
  3. Designate a few parking spaces for hybrid vehicles (10 points). 
  4. Need a holiday gift for your colleagues? Try Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)! Replace half of your incandescent bulbs with CFLs and get another 20 points.
  5. 'Tis the season to share the joy! Invite your neighboring businesses and other business friends and you could get an additional 5 points for each business that joins.
  6. Give a wonderful gift to your employees--the option to telecommute. They will spend less on gas, and then they can spend more on gifts! If you don't always need them in the office, have them spend one day a week working from home. Your employees 
    Photo courtesy of Google Images
    will be very grateful and you can earn another 10 points!
  7. Put it on paper--Develop a paper waste reduction policy, and a policy to purchase other recycled-content paper and other materials and you have earned yourself another 60 POINTS! This one's a piece of holiday cake! Develop a policy and stick to it, and you've got this challenge in the bag.
For more information, check out our website!
Five Ways to Green your Holiday 
1. Lower your electricity bill by using energy-efficient outdoor LED lights, which are several hundred times brighter than traditional lights and use 
LED Lights - Courtesy of Google Images
80% less energy.
2. Don't bother with that plastic tree made out of harmful PVC-- buy a LIVE TREE. When you make the choice to buy a live, potted tree, you are saving yourself the throwing away or recycling your tree. Buy a local tree and when Christmas is over, plant it in your backyard and watch it grow year to year. Call your local nursery to inquire about live tree availability.  
3. Forget all that wasteful wrapping paper-- Try wrapping your gifts with fabric and tie it off with a beautiful bow. Using a hand towel, scarf, or reusable bag as a holiday giftbag is like giving two gifts in one! Save your money on wrapping paper and put it towards a giftbag that 
Photo courtesy of
can be reused as something else. If you love the look of shiny paper, you can try switching to 100% post-consumer recycled paper. According to, if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields (Fact courtesy of Most organizations commited to making recycled gift wrap will even donate 1% of their proceeds to environmental conservation efforts.

4. Tie it up nicely -- Don't stop at recycled 
Photo courtesy of
gift wrap or fabric wrapping paper. Try this ribbon that is made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Beautiful AND environmentally-friendly. You can even top it off with a holiday card made of bamboo!

5. Recycle your used Christmas cards to support a great cause -- St. Jude's Ranch for Children accepts all used cards, which they reuse and sell to support their organization.  
Bike Share Poll Results

In our October issue of Green Matters we polled our readers about an El Paso Bike Share Program. Here are the poll results: 

Twenty-five percent of readers responded that they would utilize the bike share program to bike to lunch. Thirty-eight percent of responders said they would like to use the bikes to get some exercise during the day, and the other 38% would use them to "get some fresh air and burn on steam." Biking is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.
Congratulations to this Month's Library Energy Challenge Winners!

Dorris Van Doren Library Team - Recognition Celebration
We would like to recognize our last two winners for the monthly Library Energy Challenge; Clardy Fox Library and Dorris Van Doren Library won for reducing their energy usage by 21% and 23%, respectfully.
They were awarded green reusable cups with straws and a delicious pizza party. Keep up the great work, team!
Clardy Fox Library Team - Recognition Celebration
Congratulations to our GBC Sustainable Transportation Workshop Winners!
Pictured from left to right: Jorge Lopez, Shawn Smith, Stephanie Nebhan, and Steven Prieto.

Pictured above are the winners of our Green Business Challenge (GBC) Sustainable Transportation Workshop! Each workshop attendee was entered into a drawing to win a brand new bike and bike rentals. Congratulations to our lucky winners!

A big thank you to Crazy Cat Cyclery, for partnering with the city to give away the bike, and to the USGBC Chihuahua Desert Chapter for the bike rental sponsorship. 
El Paso Sustainability Department 
December 2012 Newsletter 
Visit our website for more information!