Go Green for the Holidays: Tips for a Sustainable Season
It’s hard not to love the holiday season. Whatever your traditions, they’re typically filled with giving, family get-togethers, and celebrations. However, despite our best intentions, this season can also create a lot of waste and use quite a bit of energy.
Does that mean you should say “bah, humbug!” this year? Absolutely not! But, there are ways you can sustainably celebrate while cutting down on waste this holiday season.
How to Save Energy for the Holidays
Energy conservation can be a bit difficult during the holiday hustle and bustle, but there are a few simple things you can do that may lower your energy bill and help the environment.
- Use LED Christmas lights. Traditional incandescent strands use far more energy and are far less reliable than their LED counterparts. LEDs may be a little more expensive at first, but they last considerably longer. You’ll thank yourself when you’re not replacing entire strands because one bulb went out, and you may even save money on your electric bill, too!
- Put your holiday lights on a timer. Rather than keeping your house lit up 24/7, connect your lights to a timer that only turns them on during certain evening hours (from 5pm to 11pm, for instance). After all, your lights look best when it’s dark out, and not too many people will see them after midnight.
- Turn your thermostat down if you leave your home for long periods of time. If you’re visiting family for a few days or have a long day of shopping ahead of you, your empty home doesn’t necessarily need to be toasty warm all the time. Even better, you can use a smart thermostat that can be programmed to only keep the house warm when you’re home. Doing so will help conserve energy and knock a few bucks off your gas bill.
How to Reduce Waste During the Holidays
Whether it’s decorations, boxes, or wrapping paper, celebrating the holidays can use a lot of disposable materials and create quite a bit of waste. In fact, the amount of trash Americans produce increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. However, by following even a few of these tips, you can help cut down on carbon emissions, trash, and paper consumption.
- Reuse decorations. When you buy decorations for your house or yard, try to look for sturdy, reusable items that you can put out every year, instead of temporary disposable decor. This will create less waste and save you money.
- Shop local. If you do plan on going out to purchase gifts, try shopping at your local small businesses. The money you spend will funnel back into your community, and buying locally-sourced products help cut down on waste and carbon emissions.
- Give gifts that last. Unless specifically asked for, buy gifts that are durable, energy-efficient, recyclable, or made of natural products. You’ll be helping the planet and providing your friends or loved ones with longer-lasting gifts.
- Wrap with less waste. Wrapping and unwrapping gifts can use a lot of paper and create a lot of waste. You can help conservation efforts by putting gifts in reusable bags, or by wrapping them with recycled gift paper. In fact, if every American used recycled paper to wrap just three presents this holiday, it would conserve enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields!
How to Travel Sustainably During the Holidays
One of the most common things to do during the holidays is travel. Whether you’re driving to a relative’s house or flying to meet the whole family at a destination, there are a few ways you can make your trip a little more sustainable.
- Carpool when possible. If you and several friends or family members are traveling to a similar area, consider riding together to consolidate trips and cut down on carbon emissions.
- Take public transportation to nearby areas. If your holiday destination is nearby, use a train, subway, or bus instead of your personal vehicle.
- Buy carbon offsets. If you plan on using airline travel this holiday season, but still want to be eco-friendly, consider buying carbon offsets or making a donation to an environmental charity to make up for the emissions you’ll be creating.