Go Green: Go Green for the Holidays

By Tom Last

Thanksgiving Day has passed, and the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays are now upon us! That means it’s time to start buying gifts, decorating the house, and eating more, as we prepare to enjoy the merry days to come with friends and family.

During the holiday season, consumption of food and materials (e.g. decorations, gifts, wrapping paper) increases along with energy use (e.g. indoor and outdoor holiday lights). Research suggests that each person produces an additional 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) during this time. So, to help you go green during the holidays, we are providing a list of practical tips below that will save you energy, time, money, and reduce your carbon footprint.  You may not be able to put into practice all these tips but try your best to apply some this holiday season and reap the benefits.

  • LED lights – One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy output during the holidays is to use LED 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, why not swap out those incandescent lights for LED lights and start saving now?
  • Use a timer and smart plugs – Use a timer to ensure you don’t leave your holiday lights on the entire night. This timer will help you reduce your energy bill and eliminate 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 timers smart plug products.
  • Christmas trees – ‘Live’ Christmas trees tend to have less of an environmental impact than artificial trees. However, try to buy your tree from a local tree farm and make sure you recycle or compost your live tree to reduce its carbon footprint. If you use an artificial tree, then take care in storing it so you can ensure a longer life span of the tree before it ends up in the landfill.
  • Wrapping paper and materials – My family had purchased white butcher block gift wrap paper last year and it lasted the entire season, saving us the need to make additional trips to the store to buy more wrapping paper. White butcher block paper makes wrapping gifts easy, and it is very cost effective. You can buy this paper online for about $20 and it should last you the entire season. If you feel creative, then try decorating the wrapping paper with some holiday sketches. In addition to butcher block gift wrap paper look for reusable or recycled gift wrap. Also, remember to reuse bows and gift bags whenever possible.
  • Ditch the disposables— While washing dishes may be the last thing anyone wants to do after a big holiday meal, disposable plates and cutlery are a huge source of waste during the holidays. If you need to use disposable utensils and plates, then check out eco-friendly suppliers online like ‘Ecovita,’ ‘Vplus,’ and others.
  • Donate your surplus – Instead of throwing out used clothes, bicycles, toys, furniture, etc., make sure you donate them to charity. Donating to charity is kind and thoughtful, it also reduces materials ending up in our landfill.
  • Use reusable containers and storage bags – Ask your guests to bring containers for leftovers or make sure you have some on hand to lend out after your holiday dinner party. You can also use ‘reusable’ safe dishwasher bags instead of single-use Ziplock bags.
  • Add more vegetarian dishes to your holiday menu – Meat dishes, especially beef and lamb, have a much higher carbon footprint than vegetarian dishes. So why not add more vegetarian dishes to your holiday menu this year? In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you will be adding a healthier and less costly alternative to your meal.

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 planet?. Your gift will last a lifetime!

Remember, there is no Planet B.

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