COVID-19: Beginning September 9, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality is reopening offices with Low Level (Yellow) Restrictions. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are limiting person-to-person contact. Please contact DEQ here to conduct business.

Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Tips for Eco-Friendly Holidays

By DEQ Communications Office

The holiday season is in full swing. If current weather conditions hold, it looks like Utah will have plenty of snow by the end of December. Although this will likely make for a “White Christmas,” the staff at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality have another color in mind—green. We asked our co-workers what they plan to do to make the holiday season more eco-friendly. After all, our mission is to safeguard and protect Utah’s air, land, and water.

Don’t burn. Especially don’t burn your Christmas tree. Burning solid fuel contributes as much as 15 percent of the fine-particulate pollution during an inversion. Stream the Yule Log on Netflix instead. Your lungs will appreciate it. And, as for Christmas trees, burning them is just dangerous.”

Bo Call
Environmental Program Manager
Division of Air Quality

Bo Call


“A lot of people use the holidays as a time to replace old appliances. If that’s your plan, look for options that are energy efficient and produce less emissions.”

Thom Carter
Executive Director
UCAIR

Thom Carter


“There is an ongoing debate about whether a real tree or a fake tree is better for the environment. One thing we know for sure is that we should all switch to LED Christmas lights. Incandescent bulbs waste a lot of energy. Most of it is released as heat, which is why regular light bulbs get so hot. LED use about 75 percent less energy and last 25 times as long, so make sure you buy a set that your grandkids would like to inherit.”

Ben Holcomb
Environmental Scientist
Division of Water Quality

Ben Holcomb


“The end of the year is a good time to take a look at your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). These reports are sent out yearly and provide all residents with current information on where their drinking water comes from, if there have been any violations for the local water system, or if there are any significant problems with the drinking water facilities. These yearly reports also let residents know about water system improvements, source water protection programs, and information on how the residents can take an active role in protecting and preserving their drinking water.”

Rachael Cassady
Environmental Program Manager
Division of Drinking Water

Rachael Cassady


“It seems like people don’t walk or bike as much during the winter, but they can find opportunities to use public transit. Take TRAX downtown to see the lights.”

Elisa Smith
Administrative Secretary
Division of Environmental Response and Remediation

Elisa Smith


“During the holidays we produce a lot waste. Aluminum drink cans and cardboard boxes are recyclable. It’s a good time to make some extra efforts to ensure recyclables are sorted and disposed of in the right bin.”

Doug Taylor
Environmental Scientist
Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control

Doug Taylor


“Shop online. It’s a good example of trip-chaining–home deliveries by FedEx and UPS are strategically planned to reduce trips. Plus, the DAQ has been helping to upgrade FedEx’s Home Delivery Service trucks to cleaner versions through the Utah Clean Diesel Program.”

Lisa Burr
Environmental Planning Consultant
Division of Air Quality

Lisa Burr (right)


“The shiny wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, so I started giving gifts in reusable bags. It saves a lot of time. I’ll be honest with you, that was the main reason.”

Matthew Wycoff
Environmental Scientist
Division of Drinking Water

Matt Wycoff


“Those boxes that all the presents from online shopping come in are high-value recyclables. Don’t let them go straight into the trash. Break down the cardboard boxes to save space and make sure they end up in the recycling pile.”

Phil Goble
Environmental Program Manager
Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control

Phil Goble


“I make my own Christmas cards. It isn’t a very big thing, but it allows me to reuse and recycle old paper. I know some people have gone to electronic cards, but I still like paper ones.”

Marjory Chelsea
Financial Analyst
Utah Department of Environmental Quality

Marjory Chelsea


“I like to reuse gift bags and gift wrap when possible:

Gift Bags: Gift bags usually come with a removable tag for the recipient’s name – remove the tag and save the bag for reuse next year (just add a new tag with the new recipient’s name).

Gift wrap: take your time opening any gift! This enhances the experience! When you carefully remove the gift wrap, you do not destroy it, and it can be used for another gift. Also, by slowing down, you have more time to think about and appreciate the act of gift giving, and how fortunate you are to be receiving a gift.”

Patrick Sheehan
Environmental Scientist
Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control

Patrick Sheehan

All of us at DEQ wish you and all of yours Happy Holidays!