The holiday season is coming swiftly upon us all, and with the hanging of wreathes, stringing of lights, and decorating of trees, it’s often easy to forget about taking care of the earth. Not only do we often get caught up in the “spirit” of credit-based consumerism by purchasing gifts that may just be discarded anyways, we just seem to find it harder to remember to be green when all the earth is covered in a blanket of white. However, this does not have to be the case with your holiday season this year. Instead of forgetting about Mother Earth this year, how about finding ways to give her a very Merry Christmas? Here is a list of ten simple ways to take better care of the earth this Christmas season (and to hopefully help you form better, greener everyday habits as a result.)
1. Turn off the light. Really. It’s that simple. In fact, go ahead and turn off everything when you’re not in a room-the television, computers, fans, etc. – you’ll be saving yourself money on your electrical bill while taking better care of you environment.
2. Change the bulb. Many businesses have switched over to the energy conserving light bulbs, and it’s about time that you make that change in your home as well. While these bulbs seem to often take longer to “heat up” to full brilliance, they last longer and use up less energy than the old fashion conventional light bulbs.
3. Use Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is a joint effort project between the USEPA and the U.S. Department of Energy that develops products that both cut down on greenhouse gas emissions while saving consumers money on their electrical bills.
4. Use natural fertilizers. Ok, so maybe you won’t be planting a garden in the middle of December, but this is still a good idea to keep in mind when you’re purchasing your gardening goods for the spring. Rabbit droppings make good fertilizers and lack the chemicals that most commercially produced fertilizers contain. In addition to using green fertilizers, be sure to use green ways for pest control, as most of the products on the market today contain chemicals harmful to the earth.
5. Use public transportation. That’s right-go ahead and take the bus or subway instead of driving. While you may see this as an inconvenience in your daily schedule, it really can be a blessing in disguise; you won’t have worry about finding a parking place on those crowded holiday sidewalks, and having to keep your shopping on a strictly timed schedule could help you cut down on unnecessary spending.
6. Go tray-less. This mostly applies to college students or anyone who regularly visits cafeterias for their daily nutritional uptake. Not using a tray will cut down on the amount of water used for washing dishes, and it will also force you to make your food choices more carefully, thus cutting down on food waste as well.
7. Put your [Christmas] lights on a timer. Most Christmas -light-viewers aren’t exactly prowling around neighborhoods past 11pm. Do the earth and your wallet a favor by turning your lights off around 11 and having them click on once it is fully dark outdoors.
8. Change the temperature. Just by changing your thermostat inside your home, you can make a significant difference both in the winter and summer months. A difference a small as two degrees (try keeping your home at 68oF for the winter months) can almost make a ten percent difference in your CO2 emissions.
9. Use that scrap paper. Go ahead and re-use newspapers, magazines, and paper grocery bags as wrapping paper for your Christmas surprises. It’s an eco-friendly method, and when properly done, it adds a fun and creative look to all of your presents. You can be sure that even your Aunt Margaret won’t have as unique wrapping paper as yours this year.
10. Give a plant. Someone on your Christmas list this year will be delighted to receive a lovely potted plant to brighten up the gray days of winter. Not only will this gift be literally green, but it is also a gift that “keeps on giving” through its production of clean O2.