It’s time to go green for the holidays. When I say ‘go green’ for the holidays, I am not referring to that misanthropic, ill-natured, and mean-tempered Grinch, who only wants to spoil the Christmas season. But rather, I want to talk about reducing our carbon footprint and saving money during these holidays. It’s okay to splurge during the holidays, but let’s be smart and use energy and materials efficiently. See our following tips on how you can go greener, at this holiday time of the year.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy output during the holidays is to use LED holiday lights instead of incandescent lights. LED lights not only use 90% less electricity than normal holiday lights, but they last longer, thereby reducing waste in our landfills. Also, they emit much less heat, so there is less chance of your Christmas tree catching on fire. So, how about upgrading your holiday lights to LEDs this season.
Use timers and smart plugs with your holiday lights this year. Using a timer reduces your energy bill and eliminates the need to manually switch your lighted decorations on and off. A smart plug allows you to control the power supply of your holiday lights through an app on your phone giving you even more control to conserve energy. Visit your local hardware store to find some smart plug products.
When you are wrapping your gifts, consider using recycled or reused paper or create custom wrapping paper with newspaper articles or magazine clippings. You can also try using butcher paper. Butcher paper is easily reused, recycled, and composted. It can be purchased in bulk and used at any time of the year. Let your kids decorate the butcher paper to add a nice personal touch to your wrappings. Check out ‘Wrappily’ to find eco-friendly gift wraps for the holidays. Reuse those gift bags and bows whenever possible. It’s easy enough to store gift bags and bows in your closet space. Reused gift bags will save you time and money and reduce landfill materials.
The baking of holiday cookies and big family meals are part of the holiday tradition. Ovens use a lot of energy and so to cook and bake more efficiently you should try to bake several things together, reducing the time your oven is on. Also, keep your oven door closed, as much as possible, as the oven temperature can drop as much as 25%, according to Energy.gov, every time you open the oven door to peek in. Preheating your oven isn’t always necessary. Anything that needs to be baked or roasted for longer than an hour doesn’t need to be put in a preheated oven. Most modern ovens get up to temperature very quickly, so you don’t need to run them a dozen extra minutes. For your stovetop, putting a lid on a pot will help what’s inside boil faster, thereby using less energy.
During this holiday season and throughout the wintertime, we remind you to lower your thermostat to a reasonable 68 degrees and lower it even more at bedtime. When no one is home during the day then take the time to lower the thermostat even more so that you are not heating an empty house. A smart thermostat allows you to control your thermostat from just about anywhere, by using an app on your smartphone. Effectively managing your thermostat can help you save thousands of dollars on your energy bill each year.
Remember not to waste food during the holidays. If you have any whole or untouched food leftover after parties, you can donate it to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
If you purchase a cut tree, make sure you put it out on the street, in January, on one of the tree collection dates scheduled by the DSNY. The trees are then collected, chipped, mixed with leaves, and recycled into rich compost for NYC’s parks, institutions, and community gardens. New Yorkers can also bring their Christmas tree to a designated chipping location and bring the mulch from their tree back home.
The holiday season is a time for giving, what better gift can you give the ones you love than by reducing your carbon footprint and helping save the plant. Your gift will last a lifetime!
Remember, there is no Planet B.