The holidays are upon us again, and many of us are making efforts to green our seasonal activities. This year, as we plan festive celebrations with family and friends, how about keeping our energy usage in mind – and our carbon emissions in check?
In the rush of holiday preparations, when we can barely keep up with our usual work and family to-do lists – not to mention all the extras of special food preparations and shopping for gifts – it can be challenging to stick to good intentions to reduce our carbon footprint.
With this frenetic year-end pace underway, here are a few energy-saving tips as you make your holiday rounds:
- For your holiday feast, try to plan the menu around local ingredients where possible – whether it is locally raised, grass-fed turkey or ham, or recently harvested winter squash, pumpkins or yams. Consider planning ahead to make preserves for next year by canning or freezing fresh produce that can star in future holiday favorites, such as blueberries and cherries for pies (so you can raid your cupboard, instead of the grocery shelf for long-traveling ingredients).
- If you celebrate with a Christmas tree, opt for a real, live tree. While fake trees can be re-used, it takes electricity to produce them. Real trees are absorbing carbon for many years, often on tree farms in rural communities that provide good homes for wildlife while they are growing.
- This year, try decorating with strings of LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights, which use less electricity and are longer lasting than incandescent bulbs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the cost of lighting a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days at $10 using incandescent C-9 bulbs, versus .27 using LED C-9 lights.
- Try limiting the time your holiday lights are on, from when it gets dark outside to when you go to bed, or set them on a timer.
Image Credit: youngthousands /Flickr (Energy-saving LED Christmas lights on display.) Used under a Creative Commons license.