The holiday season brings about feelings of closeness, companionship and staying warm. On the flip-side, the holidays can feel busy, rushing to get cards sent, decorations up, and picking gifts out. Saving energy is probably not top of mind this time of year. By making sustainable choices in the midst of the holiday frenzy, you protect the environment and safeguard health both now and for the future.
With the remainder of the holidays fast approaching, are you organized and prepared? Or are you still making plans and have gifts to buy? No matter where you’re at with your holiday plans, it doesn’t hurt to take a second look at some of the holiday activities you already do and find ways to make them more sustainable. Here are some quick tips and tricks that require minimal effort, but have significant return.
Consider the following:
- Americans throw away about 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
- Do you have a forgotten Christmas present in your closet? I know I’ve come across a few in years past. About 35% of Americans have an unused gift collecting dust in their closets.
Decorate with the earth in mind.
- Buy an artificial tree that can be used for years to come. When shopping for a tree, make the most energy efficient choice.
- Dispose of your living tree in a chipping facility or return it to the earth in other eco-friendly ways. When you recycle your tree, you free up landfill space and are supporting the environment for natural decomposition.
- Consider using few or no lights in your holiday decorations. If you’re like me, lights are a must have. I use LED strings, which are more energy efficient than the traditional.
- Plug your indoor and outdoor lights into a timer. This prevents the energy being wasted by having lights on all day.
- Decorate in creative, natural ways by using earthy materials from your yard or with items you already own.
Give, and give back. Use fewer resources (or reuse some) when you shop, give presents and wrap gifts.
- Take your own bags on shopping trips. A good tip is to leave the bags in your car so they’re readily available. Never know when you’re going to need them!
- Conserve energy by carpooling, using mass transit if available, and combine several trips in one.
- Buy local! Support your economy by buying from local merchants, crafters, or antique shops.
- Create — Make your own gifts.
- Give in ways that support your community: buy gift certificates to local attractions, shows, museum memberships and so on. This minimizes the ‘stuff’ aspect of gifts.
- Use creative means of wrapping. Try wrapping gifts in scarves, fabric, handkerchiefs, and so on. You can even use some reusable tins, old maps, ads, and even some garden items! These not only look cool, but they add a personal touch. If every American family wrapped just 3 (yes, only 3!) presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
What’s on the menu?
- Eat sustainable food choices in your area and buy locally. This is something that can be applied year round.
- Serve food in washable containers rather than disposable that only get one use.