Green just happens to be one of the traditional colors of the Christmas season.,
But the green I have in mind is the environmentally friendly kind.
It’s that time of year, when newspapers delight in feeding us Holiday-themed climate change statistics. Largely accurate, certainly urgent but also casting a bit of a dampener on the festive fun.
Statistics tell us that Christmas consumerism creates the same carbon footprint as a car circling the globe 6,000 times! That is deplorable. Perhaps you’re contemplating treating yourself to a nice party outfit? But are you aware eight million garments bought for Christmas end up flung onto landfill after just one wear? Consider buying gently worn this year.
And instead of taking to your bed in a sorry state of depression, thinking there’s nothing one can do to stop the damage done, commit to making this year our most eco-friendly, sustainable holiday season yet. Small changes can make all the difference in reducing our environmental footprint during the festive season. And it’s easier now than ever, because 2019 marks the moment eco-friendly festivities have gone mainstream.
I’ve come up with some eco-friendly, energy saving tips that will help you sail through this holiday season guilt free. From buying second-hand to choosing sustainable products (and avoiding companies that aren’t eco-friendly), there are plenty of ways to show your loved ones, and the planet, a little love.
Limit Lighting. Turn Christmas trees on only when you’re in the room to enjoy them. Turn outside decorations off before you go to bed at night, or put them on a timer that will remember to do it for you. Better yet stick with traditional farolitos. Simple votives in a brown paper bag filled with sand.
2 Use LED Lights.These small Light Emitting Diodes use 80% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, plus they’re cool to the touch. Look for the Energy Star seal for ones with the highest energy efficiency rating.
3 Replace snail mail cards and letters with e-cards and e-mails to save paper and mailing expense. It also will reduce your carbon footprint since it eliminates the fuel used for transporting standard mail. As an alternative, consider homemade cards, using compostable paper. If you must buy cards, do look for those made from recycled materials.
4. Shop Local. Rather than burning gas driving out-of-town searching for that perfect Christmas or Hanukkah present, shop locally instead. Having your gifts shipped directly to far flung recipients by the store where you purchased it, saves even more energy.
5 Presents shouldn’t cost the earth. Consider giving eco-friendly or homemade gifts to those on your shopping list. Locally made counts too! Energy saving items include: Bicycles, gift certificates to health food stores or an organic farm to table restaurant, baked goods and other food items, paintings and photographs, pottery and ceramics, sewing and knitting supplies, handmade ornaments, eco-friendly scented drawer liners and hand milled soaps, or tea and a tarot reading – the list is endless once some thought is put into it.
6. Use eco-Friendly methods to reduce the waste from gift wrapping:Buy gift wrap made from recycled materials, make your own gift wrap from cloth and other materials,save wrapping paper from gifts you receive to use next year, reuse boxes for shipping and gifts, recycle wrapping paper and boxes rather than throwing them away. (Speaking of which, what is going on in Taos regarding recycling? This should be on the top of the Town’s agenda.)
7. Buy a Green Christmas tree or cut down your own. Not only is it a fun family activity, but it eliminates the transportation required for shipped trees. Try to find an organic tree that is pesticide free to reduce the toxins in your home. An even greener option is to buy a live Christmas tree then plant it in your yard after the holidays are over.
8. Rather than buying plastic ornaments, wreaths, and decorations made in China, make your own from pine cones, holly, seashells, river stones, and evergreen branches. Creative types can make their own wreath using paper and twine. Gingerbread men threaded on ribbon are another option, as are foraged red berries. If you want candles, choose eco-friendly soy or beeswax varieties rather than paraffin based. Home made menorahs are a fun activity to do with kids, or have one made by a local artisan that can be reused for a lifetime.Recycle your decorations after the holidays, rather than sending them to the landfill.
9.Between shopping, trips to visit relatives, and the flurry of parties and other activities, the holiday season often involves a lot of travel, which in turn adds more pollutants to the atmosphere. Every gallon of gasoline used by your car releases 19.4 pounds of CO2, and air travel is equally bad. So if you really want to go green, consider limiting your travel plans this year. If you do take a trip, plan to use public transportation at your destination rather than renting a car upon arrival.
10. While saving energy is a good idea anytime of year, it’s especially important to address during the holidays with a long winter ahead.Plan to reduce your energy bills while helping the environment at the same time, by turning down your thermostat when you’re asleep or not at home, or install a programmable thermostat to do it for you. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) to reduce your lighting bill by 75%. It really is all about the small stuff. Tiny changes make a huge difference.
Stay safe and warm, and I’ll have more Holiday tips and cheer, next week and throughout the remainder of the year!
For more information on how to make your holidays more sustainable by shopping local, please visit the sites linked below.
All images stock files except top image, by Bill Curry