Tis the season to be jolly — and, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the time for Americans to gift each other with more than $33.7 billion worth of headphones, tablets, laptops and smartphones. This is an enormous amount of money, but it comprises just a small percentage of the $211 billion the CEA estimates we’ll have spent by the end of 2014.

Our Christmas gift-giving habits are great for the national economy. Unfortunately, they’re not so great for the environment. Each time we replace an old electronic device with a new one we’re likely adding to the world’s growing e-waste crisis.

So how bad is this crisis? Check out the latest numbers from the United Nations. Across the globe, people generated about 54 million tons of e-waste last year. Here in the United States we contributed nearly a fifth of that amount — over 10 million tons — despite representing only about 5% of the world’s population.

Maybe this is the year to start making your Christmas green. Here’s how:

Be smart about smartphones

Are you the lucky holiday recipient of a new smartphone? Make this generous gift count twice by donating your old phone to a worthwhile organization. There are many groups who will make good use of your outdated device. For example, consider donating your old phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or Secure the Call.

If you’re giving a smartphone as a gift this year, enclose instructions for recycling old devices inside the gift wrap. All the major phone carriers have readily accessible recycling programs — you can find them online at:

  1. Make a Christmas gift to a deserving organization

Take a moment to gather up your used electronics as they’re replaced by shiny new Christmas gifts. Your old computer, copier, monitor or fax machine might be part of a local school’s wish list. To find a worthwhile home for your gently-used computer equipment, try the National Cristina Foundation.

Your family’s out-of-date PlayStation or Wii might make a very merry Christmas for some less fortunate child. Even old appliances, if they’re still in good working order, could make a family’s holiday brighter. Check with the Austin Salvation Army, The Arc of Texas , Austin Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill of Central Texas for guidelines on donations of electronics, toys and appliances.

Go rechargeable

The EPA estimates that nearly 40% of all the batteries sold in the U.S. are sold during the holiday season. Make sure you add rechargeable batteries to any electronic gift you give. Better yet, make a gift of a battery charger!

If you’ve got rechargeable batteries that don’t hold a charge anymore, bring them to Best Buy or Office Depot. Both companies offer free recycling of spent rechargeable batteries. If you’re looking instead to recycle used-up alkaline batteries, take them to any Batteries Plus store or to the City of Austin’s Household Hazardous Waste drop-off area.

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of “thinking green,” you’ll discover how easy it is to avoid creating more waste. From replacing paper gift with reusable holiday fabrics to making the switch to LED Christmas lights, there are lots of ways to enjoy this season of giving while giving our planet a break. We wish you all a joyous — and green — Christmas, and the happiest New Year ever.