Happy Holidays 2013 – Some Tips to make it ‘Green’

The Holiday Season is upon us – perhaps the best time of year when we enjoy time off work, gift exchanges, great food (and drink), and of course valuable time with friends and family.

We all know the season has its downfalls with traffic being consistently awful, weather being tumultuous, and shopping malls resembling Times Square on New Year’s Eve. While those personally wrap up my big three knocks for the holiday season, there are a few more that we ‘eco-minded’ folk often consider – those related to how the holiday season impacts our environment.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to not give out presents, or to not make a trip to visit friends and relatives – that would be silly – but there are certain actions that you can take to ‘green up’ your holiday season and maybe even feel good about it too.

There are a handful of blogs out there that will give you 10 or so ideas that can make a difference in how eco-friendly your holiday season is, but frankly I don’t feel like many of the ones I’ve read really contribute to positive change. No offense to one blog, but I don’t consider ‘using real plates, not paper or plastic’ to really be a green-tip; I think that’s more of a standard choice for most adults.

While my list certainly may not represent the gold standard for greening up the holidays, hopefully some of these actions can be incorporated into your activities over the next few weeks.

Make the switch to LED Lights!

  • Whether you’re decorating the tree or the shrubs in the front yard, LEDs are far more efficient than conventional bulbs. They last longer, run cooler, and will save you money in the long run as energy costs continue to increase. If money’s tight, make the change for next year and capitalize on post-holiday savings.
  • Don’t throw out the old bulbs, pass them down to a friend or family member – every college/university student will welcome the donation of lights to remedy their final exam blues.

Set up an East – West or North – South Carpool to Mom & Dad’s place.

  • If you’re visiting family, see which family members and friends are coming from a certain direction and try to pick them up along the way if there’s room in your car.
  • This takes a car off the road which reduces GHG emissions, minimizes traffic, and allows for the party animal of the family to have a designated driver all the way back home.

Wrap Responsibly.

  • Newspaper isn’t the only option. Plenty of paper companies manufacture 100% Post-Consumer Waste paper for the holidays. Not only are these made from recycled content, but they can be recycled in almost all municipalities unlike some wrapping papers.
  • Red, Green, Blue, and White pillowcases with a bow on top will encase most small boxes or even form fit certain ones. Ditch the paper all together and try to wrap some gifts in fabric!

Drink Local – Eat Local

  • For Ontarians, we have a wealth of sources when it comes to buying local food and drinks. Take a look at Ontario wine selections on your next trip to liquor store or check out the beer and wine groups with sustainability initiatives!
  • Ask your butcher for their Ontario-raised selection of products when you head out this weekend.

Plan an Outdoor Car-Free Weekend

  • It can be awfully easy to drive out to the store, buy some hot chocolate, light a fire and watch movies in a Snuggie when you’re off work the next few weeks – why not mix it up?
  • Head out with the family or your significant other – take in some skating on a community pond, head to the local tobogganing hill, or just go for a walk in the park. It’ll get you out of the house, allowing you to turn your lights off and your thermostat down.

Try some of these tips, and let us know what you’re doing this year for sustainability during the holiday season.