The holidays are not a happy time for the environment. Around December there are an additional one million tons of trash going into landfills each week. Gift wrap, cards, packaging, boxes, advertisements, catalogs, napkins, and so on contribute to this. Recycling is important for a lot of those paper products, but even recycling is not a long-term sustainable solution to these problems. Plus I haven’t even mentioned the food waste from all of the parties, festivities, and general attitude of overindulgence.
Emissions, the cause of global climate change, are increased at this time of year as well. CO2 is the big one, but there are many other gases that are doing their damage as well. Things like wood burning fires, snowblowers, and extra driving are sadly a harm to the environment. Then there’s the extra energy consumption that goes on in the winter and even more around the holidays.
All of these environmental issues fall into one of three categories: waste, emissions, or energy. With these in mind, here are 12 ways to green your holiday this year.
1. Reuse packing paper, newspaper, or cloth bags for wrapping paper. (The paper that comes with packages delivered from Amazon is my favourite.)
2. Send e-cards in place of typical paper cards.
3. Opt out of physical catalogs and flyers by calling companies or leaving a note in your mailbox.
4. Use cloth napkins in place of paper.
5. Follow these 7 simple ways to reduce food waste.
6. Use Duraflame or coffee ground logs in your fireplace for a cleaner burn.
7. Shovel the snow from your driveway by hand.
8. Carpool with others to Christmas parties and events.
9. Get a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one.
10. Use LED bulbs as they use about 25% of the energy of incandescent bulbs.
11. Limit the amount of Christmas lights you use and how long they’re on for.
12. Set your thermostat a couple degrees lower and warm up with sweaters, blankets, and hot drinks instead.
This is a pretty long post, and all that information may have been overwhelming. That is the last thing I want you to feel, especially during the already often hectic and stressful holiday season. You don’t have to do it all. I do encourage you though to make a goal. Perhaps reduce your household waste during a time most families are increasing it, calculate your carbon footprint and vow to cut it down by just 10%, or choose a set number of green alternatives from above.
How do you green your holiday? What is your eco-friendly holiday goal for this year?