The next wave of holidays is quickly approaching, and although we recognize this to be the most wonderful time of year, it’s also considered the most wasteful. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s alone, waste production jumps 25%, adding an extra one million tons of waste to landfills each week.
While these are some alarming numbers, there’s much that can be done to combat excess waste and celebrate a sustainable holiday. The more people that work to save energy and resources during this season, the bigger the impact that can be made. As you get into the festive spirit these next few weeks, here are some tips to make going green a new treasured holiday tradition:
- Gift Greener – Consider gifting an experience to loved ones to reduce waste and environmental impact. Buying gifts from local businesses that follow social and environmental practices or supporting local artists, craftspeople or farmers will also largely benefit the region’s air quality. Additionally, newspapers, old posters, maps, reusable gift bags or scrap fabric lying around the house make for beautiful, personal and unique gift wraps. If you choose to buy gift wrap, look for recycled content gift wrap paper whenever you can find it.
- Light it Right – Traditional incandescent strands use approximately 80% more energy and are far less reliable than their LED counterparts. While LEDs may be a little more expensive, they last up to 10 times longer and will ultimately save you money on your electric bill, too. Rather than keeping your house lit up 24/7, consider connecting lights to a timer so they only turn on during certain evening hours to further conserve energy.
- Think Globally. Buy Locally. – Whether you’re heading to the mall or local family-owned shop for last minute gift shopping, remember the less you have to drive, the better for the environment. Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and not driving store-to-store will help to reduce harmful auto emissions that lead to poor air quality. Also, if you’re planning to host a festive holiday feast this year, consider shopping for sustainable produce from your local farmers. Not only does local organic food taste better, but you’ll also be doing your part for the community and the planet.
- Travel Sustainably – Greener travel starts before even leaving the house. The more weight trains, planes, and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use, and the more harmful greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. So, be conscious of how many extra items overall you are packing to lighten the load and help keep the air quality in healthy ranges. If you’re traveling to visit family by your own personal vehicle, routine maintenance steps like checking engine performance and keeping tires properly inflated are ideal ways to help reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Traveling by bus or train are also great options that can offer a certain level of convenience, particularly if the weather and roads are bad along your route.
A few small changes are all it takes to help people all across the St. Louis region breathe easier this holiday season. To learn more, visit the tips section of the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.