Aside from your perfectly snow-powdered lawn, almost everything else about your home could probably be a little greener this winter holiday. See, in our seasonal quest for friendly gatherings, epic sugar crashes, and feng shui-defying decorations, we tend to waste major energy.
But not this year! We’re offering the gift of 5 ways to green your home and improve the way you celebrate this festive period.
Now, I know some folks stick to their holiday traditions tighter than an over-sapped tree. So, to ease your nerves amid all this change, our green holiday tips also come with the common-sense convincing you need to put them in action.
1. Rethink your tree
The problem: Fake trees may be convenient, but they have a devastating environmental impact. About 80 percent of sham shrubbery is made in China through coal-burning. It’s then transported via diesel-powered ships, and, when disposed, it lies in landfills as non-biodegradable lumps. While some boast about the reusability of fake trees, experts at The Nature Conservancy say the average household only uses theirs for about 5 years.
The solution: Buy a real tree, of course! They’re completely biodegradable, plus you can support local businesses and have a literal green holiday to go along with your earth-conscious one. If you buy a root-ball or container tree (which can be replanted in your yard post holidays), you can avoid any waste and actually contribute to healthier soil and fresher air. Just remember to dig your planting hole before the ground freezes and buy your tree as late as possible.
In case you’re still skeptical, remember: Fake Christmas trees may have a certain kitsch, but in the end, nothing spruces up your living room quite like the real deal (and the smell of pine will instantly put you in a holiday mood).
2. See the light
The problem: Traditional holiday lights. Decorating your yard and home with these bad boys runs your electric usage through the (admittedly colorful) roof.
The solution: LED lights. They use 33 percent less power, last practically forever, and burn cooler, which can lower the risk of fire. The only downside is they are slightly dimmer.
In case you’re still skeptical, remember: That one overzealous neighbor with the breathtaking sense of contrast and never-ending supply of rare ornaments always outshines your light display. Every year. So what’s the harm in changing things up?
3. Cook carefully
The problem: Frequently opening and closing the oven to check the turkey, yams, or next batch of cookies is second nature to many holiday vets. Unfortunately, it does a number on your energy consumption.
The solution: Check food from behind a closed oven door (most ovens have that handy little light) and trust your instincts. If you’re really feeling proactive, you could swap your oven for an ENERGY STAR model — the cherry on top of any green home.
In case you’re still skeptical, remember: Drier meat just means a lot more gravy!
4. Mind the leftover wrapping paper
The problem: Rolls and rolls of paper going into the garbage.
The solution: Keep recycling bins in places where gift wrapping and gift opening happen so family and friends can easily toss their used wrapping paper. You could even reuse your old paper in fun ways, like confetti, gift bag stuffing, shelf lining, or a ball to throw at people who criticize your new shelf lining.
In case you’re still skeptical, remember: The recycling bin is only, like, 6 steps away! I know egg nog makes you sleepy, but, 6 steps!
5. Hesitate on heat
The problem: Making the house too darn cozy. Heating your home in winter is a major energy drain.
The solution: Lower the thermostat and put on a sweater. If you have a crowd of guests, they might actually thank you. Additionally, you can turn down the heat when you’re out running your holiday errands, which helps green your home better than holding a constant temperature all day. Also, try to limit your fireplace use and have your chimney inspected for efficiency by a certified chimney sweep.
In case you’re still skeptical, remember: A fire on a winter’s day … how clichéd, right? RIGHT? (Honestly, I got nothing. A glowing holiday fire is delightful and we both know it. But go easy, ok?)
Hopefully, with this eco-friendly advice, you’ll be on your way to a green holiday in no time. If you’re looking for additional ways to improve your holidays, be sure to winterize your car and home. And whatever you do, don’t let your Christmas tree fall off the car en route! That’s no fun for anyone.