In an age where the environment has come to the forefront of society, political campaigns and world-wide initiatives, it seems odd that so much of Christmas can be wasteful. There are meals too large for any family to eat, miles of wrapping paper destined for the landfill and millions of trees that get cut down. But with a little careful thought, everyone can make Christmas a little greener this year. As you deck the halls this holiday season, keep your environmental impact in mind by following these easy tips.
Use what you have. There’s no reason to go out and buy all new eco-friendly Christmas decorations. In fact, throwing your old items out to replace them with greener options might actually be counterproductive to your environmental efforts. Instead, make the most of the Christmas decorations that you already have.
Host a neighborhood swap. If you’re just tired of your old holiday decorations give the things of Christmas past a chance at new life through a decoration swap. Host a party and ask your neighbors or a group of friends to bring any decorations they aren’t planning to use this holiday season. You can trade or borrow decorations from each other so your home gets something fresh and new this year at no cost to you or the environment. If there are leftover decorations, consider donating them to a local thrift store.
Get a potted Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of almost every home’s holiday decorations. But despite its color it’s not always the greenest option. For example, an artificial tree may wear out after a few years, sealing its fate with a trip to the landfill. And because fake trees are made out of a non-recyclable plastic, the tree won’t decompose. A better option is to purchase a fresh cut Christmas tree. Though it’s been chopped down, tree farms usually plant three in its place and it can be repurposed as mulch. However, the most eco-friendly option is to buy a potted Christmas tree from your local nursery. You can bring the plant into your home and decorate it for the holiday season. And once Christmas is over, your family can plant it in the backyard.
Recycle products into decorations. This year, instead of buying new Christmas decorations, find ways to use items you might just throw away. For example, if you have a bunch of leftover glass ornaments, you can glue them together to make a wreath for your front door. Popsicle sticks can be combined to create whimsical snowflake ornaments. And last year’s greeting cards can be cut up to become this year’s gift tags.
Hang LED lights. Depending on the number of lights you use and your electricity prices, you could spend a small fortune lighting your home with incandescent Christmas lights. And it’s not just costly to your wallet, holiday lights can hurt your carbon footprint too. Although it’s the greenest option to forgo Christmas lights, there are plenty of eco-friendly solutions on the market that can help keep your holiday season green and bright. The most popular option is to purchase LED lights. Because they use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs they are one of the most efficient light bulbs on the market.
GEF guest contributor Ben Barnes is a graduate student with experience in the energy sector. His work concentrates on efforts to increase the sustainability of renewable energy sources and reduce the carbon footprint in the world we live in.