Editor’s Note: Get prepared for the festive season by reading our 18 tips for an eco-friendly Christmas. This blog post was written by Go Green’s Katarina Lajtban. Go Green is a site providing guidance for sustainable living and environmental news around the world that inspires readers to take action. Katarina create web links and online paths that enable future readers to find the Go Green site, follow the news and learn about important environmental issues to take action towards a more sustainable living.
During the holiday season, there is a world-wide skyrocketing trash output and in America alone, there is about a million extra tons of garbage every week. From food shopping to gift shopping and decorating, you can literally see the amount of trash increase in your own home. There isn’t any question that the holidays are a magical and fun time for those who celebrate.
What’s better than attending parties, buying and giving gifts, cooking up your best dishes, volunteering and sharing in a sense of community? There isn’t any other time of the year quite like it. The spirit is contagious because gratitude is a wonderful feeling. However, we all want to do our part to have a more eco-friendly Christmas. Here are some tips to help you celebrate the holidays in a greener way.
1. Use food as decoration. It can be eaten at the end of the day, meaning there will be less waste to deal with but even if there is, it is biodegradable. Since food is a big part of the holidays, it can be used as table centerpieces. Think persimmons, cranberries and even pinecones.
2. Use LED lights. Looking at Christmas tree lights can be spellbinding; it is a sight to behold. Even for adults, Christmas tree lights evoke warm and fuzzy feelings. So this year, switch to LED holiday light strands. They consume 70 percent less energy than incandescent ones. In addition, according to the U.S. Department of Energy–it costs just $0.27 to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days! In comparison, it costs $10 for incandescent lights for the same duration. Fun fact: Did you know the first Christmas trees were lit up with candles? Talk about a fire hazard!
3. Stay away from inflatables. These decorations are fun, but they can cost around $2-$9 per month in energy costs. You can limit your energy use by displaying decorations such as ribbons, wreaths and other decorations that don’t consume energy.
4. Use extension cords. Some decorators use string lights to lengthen holiday displays. All that does is consume more energy. It’s eco-friendlier and more energy-efficient to simply use extension cords.
5. Use automatic timers. Don’t leave your lights on all night. No one will notice them when everyone is asleep. Set the timers to turn them off when you hit the sack.
1. Buy local produce as much as possible. For starters, the food will be fresher and taste better. Plus, they require less transportation–which, helps to conserve fuel and reduces carbon emissions. Look for local farms that produces turkeys, hams, cornish hens and chickens or the proteins of your choice.
2. Use glass or ceramic pans for the oven. These types of pans heat faster than metal ones. Thus, you can set the temperature 25 degrees lower than the recipe suggests. You also want to stay away from disposable pans and disposable plates, plastic flatware, and Styrofoam cups. This is the time of year to bring out the good china and cloth napkins. They are easy to wash and can be reused repeatedly. In addition, they take up little storage room until next year. When it comes to beverages, serve them from pitchers or gallon jugs instead of individual bottles or cans.
3. Use a slow cooker. For side dishes and small meals, slow cookers, microwaves and toaster ovens are much more energy-efficient than the oven.
4. Keep the oven closed when cooking. Why? Ovens lose a lot of heat when opened and then use more energy to heat back up to the right temperature. It’s better to turn on the oven light and look through the window.
1. Look for gifts that are eco-friendly. Ask a retail associate to help you. If you are shopping online, it is as simple as typing “Eco-friendly gifts” into your search engine of choice.
2. Look for energy-efficient electronics. Many of our loved ones would like electronics for holiday gifts. Search for the items that promote energy efficiency. A quick note: laptops require 50 to 80 percent less energy than a desktop.
3. Buy ENERGY STAR® appliances. Just look for the logo, as it is easy to find. These models can decrease energy usage up to 40 percent.
Keep the pests away
With all the cooking and sweets, you might notice a few unwanted roommates. The best way to keep bugs and other vermin out of your home is with ultrasonic pest repellents. They work remarkably well, without the damaging and harsh fumes that come with extermination. They are also much safer for our pets since they are non-toxic.
One of the most popular ultrasonic pest repellents on the market is the Crave Greens plugin, which can be found on Amazon. Although, there are many to choose from. Read the reviews and descriptions before purchasing. You want to get the most effective plugin for your needs.
Prefer to travel?
The holidays are for enjoying your time off. Sometimes, that calls for a travel adventure. To keep it eco-friendly, choose one of these greener destinations.
1. Costa Rica. This country is known for its eco-conscious boutique hotels. The country also has a sustainability policy which has resulted into hydro-power being its biggest source of electricity.
2. Galapagos Islands. These islands are located over 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. They are also almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. 90 percent of the islands are designated as national parks, pure heaven for nature lovers!
3. Bhutan. This country is deliberately developing tourism slowly so as to preserve their natural resources and protect their culture. They also have a set tourism tax that is returned to the communities. You will find breathtaking wildlife in its many conservation areas.
4. New Zealand. Who can forget the amazing scenery in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings’ movies? In fact, 20 percent of the country is made up of natural parks. Why not spend Christmas surrounded by natural landscapes or going whale watching?
5. Slovenia. Its capital, Ljubljana, was voted the European Green Capital of 2016. It states that it is the first European city to move towards zero waste. They have installed special bins that charge users based on how much waste is disposed. Furthermore, its city buses run on natural gas.
As you can see, you have many options for enjoying an eco-friendly Christmas and they aren’t difficult to follow or implement. Plus, you’ll lose the guilty conscious of having too much waste or using too much energy.
This blog post was edited by Daniel Ddiba.