By McKinely Ball
The holidays are typically a time to go all out on things like food, decorations and gifts. Filled with parties, family and shopping, this may be the busiest time of the year. So many decisions to make—where to spend the holidays, what to decorate the house with and what gifts to get everyone are just a few of the things that tend to occupy our minds. This year, however, there’s something else to consider when you start decking the halls. How can this year be greener than the last? Here are seven ideas to help your dreams of a green Christmas come true.
Choose a Live Chemical Free Tree
For years people have debated between real or artificial Christmas trees and which one is better for the environment. The truth is that both real and artificial trees contain harmful chemicals. Where possible, try to purchase a live tree from a local vendor that is low-pesticide or organic. Organic and low-pesticide trees eliminate or at least reduce the number of harmful chemicals being brought into your home and the environment.
Use Energy Efficient Lights and Decorations
Every year people go to all sorts of extremes to decorate their home inside and out for the holidays. However, these beautiful displays use 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. This isn’t saying that the light show’s need to stop, but it’s time to make the switch to LED lights and using a timer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lights have a longer lifespan while consuming 70 percent less energy than older incandescent strands of lights. Running these lights on a timer will ensure that energy isn’t being used on lights all night while not a creature is stirring.
Order Items Early and Avoid 2-day Shipping
Many of us are probably familiar with going through the list of gifts and other things we needed last minute and discovering that one item and rushing to the store in hopes they still had it in stock. In today’s world, 2-day shipping has taken some of that gut-wrenching feeling away. Instead of rushing to the store and frantically running up and down the aisles, today we sit back on the couch and order it through Amazon Prime. Planning and checking your list twice before the last minute allows delivery companies to operate more efficiently.
The days around Christmas and New Year are some of the busiest travel days of the year. Gas emissions make up the second largest source of emissions in the U.S. In order to help limit these emissions it is important to limit travel and maximize the effectiveness of each trip. In other words, keep travel to a minimum over the holidays.
Reduce Food Footprint
With the holidays comes many different festive foods served at gatherings of family and friends. The more food purchased leads to an even larger agricultural carbon footprint. To keep these to a minimum try serving more vegetables and grain-based dishes at get-togethers this holiday season.
Recycle Gift Wrap
Practically synonymous with the holidays is gift-giving. Gifts are usually beautifully wrapped in festive wrapping paper that gets torn off when it comes time to open the gift. Gift wrapping paper makes up nearly half of the paper consumed in the U.S. alone. This year instead of simply tossing the mountain of wrapping paper into the trash make sure it makes it into the recycling can. Doing this can help eliminate millions of tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags thrown out each year.
Recycle or Compost Tree
When the holidays are over and the gifts are all unwrapped, as you take down the decorations take one last step to complete your green Christmas. Rather than tossing your tree into the fire, take the time to make sure it gets recycled or composted. Then sit back and take a breath of fresh air you helped make.
From all of us at DEQ, happy holidays and we hope this year is a green Christmas.
I am currently interning with the Department of Environmental Quality while attending my final semester at Weber State University. I will be graduating in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. When I am not working or doing homework, I am playing sports or watching movies with my wife.