Posted on Nov 19, 2008

Malawi children, courtesy of David Shulman, Minerva Fellow

If you didn’t already equate the holiday season with excess, consider:

Between the end of November and the beginning of January, Americans generate more than their usual share of garbage.

“The holidays are the most wasteful time of the year,” says Jeffrey Corbin, biology professor and member of U Sustain. “Americans throw out 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and the New Year than during any other time of the year – that’s 25 million extra pounds of trash.”

And since a key component of any effort to lessen the human impact on the environment is waste reduction, “taking steps to reduce the amount of trash you generate is an easy way to go greener this season,” Corbin said.

To help make this the greenest holiday season yet, U Sustain is inviting members of the campus community to approach the coming weeks with an eye toward sustainability.

The committee’s Web site,, offers new and creative ideas for eco-friendliness this season. Where can you buy LED holiday lights or recyclable wrapping paper? Should you buy a tree at all? Have you thought about donating to organizations that help fight poverty and injustice around the globe (instead of buying more throwaways that generate more trash)?

The new site is also soliciting green gift and other ideas. (Cork bath mat or kitchen composting crock, anyone?) Please e-mail your tips to