Earth-Friendly Tips for the Holidays

Dec 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Youth Blog

It’s that time of year again, when classic rock is replaced by carols, joy and happiness is in the air, and the halls are decked with boughs of holly!  That’s right, folks, it’s time for the holidays!! (Wasn’t it just?) But have you ever considered how to make your December festivities a bit more green? If not, here’s three easy tips to help you be “cool” while staying warm!

First of all, let’s talk about holiday lights. People in my town go way overboard with the  lights. You can probably find us on a satellite image in December just by how bright we must glow. But in all seriousness, have you ever wonderred how much power all those lights must take? If so, you should check out this cool energy use calculator! Using the calculator, I did a quick thought experiment: let’s suppose a house uses five tiny-bulb (100 bulb) strings and five larger bulb (25 bulb) strings, and has one spotlight on their illuminated reindeer (which is not included in this because, well, there’s no place in the calculator for “illuminated reindeer”). Let’s say this house uses the lights a mere 5 hours a day. That’s almost 5kWh a day, and costs almost $15 in just a month – and it puts more than six pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. How can you cut down on your energy use? Use LED holiday lights! In a Consumer Reports study, while normal bulbs used up to 105 kWh, LED’s used only 1-3, and thus reduced the cost of energy use up to $11. Also, LEDs live longer. So – Green Tip #1: Light up the night with LEDs!

The next craziest part of the holidays is, of course, the food. There’s a lot of food during the holidays, which means that a great way you can cut down on your eco-footprint is to eat local! Even though farmer’s markets are  mainly a summer thing (as you may remember from a previous post of mine), winter markets are becoming all the rage. One farmer’s market in Chicago says that their winter market will sell “cheese, meat and poultry, soap, syrup, honey, wool, raw fibers, vinegars, dried fruits, milled flours, sauces and salsas, preserves, cider, and fresh produce.” Wow. So don’t let the cold discourage you from supporting local farmers – Tip #2: Keep eating local. Nothing like visions of organic, locally-grown sugar plums dancing in your head, right?

 And the craziest part of the holidays…PRESENTS! This year, give someone a gift that says that you care about the environment. One really interesting gift would be a carbon offset – for a place to start looking, you can try here, but there’s tons of companies out there who sell carbon offsets. The downside, of course, is that it’s kind of hard to gift wrap a carbon offset. For those of you who want to give somebody something material as well as meaningful, you could also adopt a species through the World Wildlife Fund, and give the gift of an adorable plush of an endangered specices. Whatever you think works for you, remember – Tip  #3: Gift green!

As the holidays go on, I’ll post more ideas as I find them, but this is a great starting point. I, for one, can’t wait to get started on greenifying – since the only thing I love more than the holiday season is, well, being green!

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