Your carbon footprint is a measure of how much you impact the environment. For example, driving your car and washing your laundry emits carbon dioxide and, therefore, increases your carbon footprint. While it would be difficult to completely prevent having a negative impact, there are many changes you can make to improve your footprint. Maybe you’re already familiar with simple ideas, such as reusable shopping bags and carpooling or riding your bike instead of taking your own car to work.
However, there are probably many areas of life that you haven’t really thought about (unless you’ve been working on this challenge for a while.) For instance, the winter holidays bring up new concerns and new ways to do better at protecting the earth.
Turn Down the Lights
There are few things as comforting as seeing the warm glow of home on a cold, dark winter night, and when you add in hundreds of brightly twinkling lights, it’s easy to feel a pleasant sense of nostalgia. However, all of those indoor and outdoor holiday lights can ramp up your impact on the environment, as well as your utility bill. Continue to enjoy your lights and improve your footprint by putting the lights on a timer, swapping out any older lights with LEDs, and using solar-powered lighting where possible.
Unplug Your Activities
A lot of holiday activities mean increased use of electricity, including watching movies and listening to festive music. Cut down some of that electrical energy usage (and save some money) by planning activities such as family board games, nature walks, and community events. You can further reduce your use of electricity by turning the heat down a few degrees and snuggling up in a warm sweater and cozy blankets.
Skip the Wrapping
Did you know that a lot of holiday wrapping paper cannot be recycled? There are many additives such as dyes, glitter, and plastics that aren’t accepted by recycling plants. The sticky tape and residue may gum up machinery and any leftover tags, ribbons, and bows are also problematic. As you consider your gift-wrapping needs, pay attention to whether your paper can be recycled. Of course, you could also wrap gifts in festive fabrics, reusable gift bags, and old newspapers.
While you’re thinking about reducing your footprint and gift-giving, consider the idea of minimizing gifts. Rather than adding to the crush of shoppers frantically looking for a suitable gift that friends and family may or may not even want, consider simplifying. A handwritten note of appreciation, a thoughtful re-gift, and similar ideas can reduce your part in consumerism and help you avoid giving a gift that will be de-cluttered after the holidays.
Don’t Toss Out Your Tree
Finally, take a hard look at your relationship with your holiday tree. There are a lot of discussions about whether artificial or real trees are best for the environment, but when it comes right down to it, what you do with the tree after the holidays is more relevant to the conversation that which type of tree you get. If you choose a real tree, have it chipped and mulched after the holidays rather than tossing it in a landfill. If you opt for an artificial tree, take care of it and make it last five to seven years.
Get more information about artificial trees at Tree Classics, a Balsam Hill community where you can flip through photos, read posts, and enjoy information from experts about live and artificial trees. Take a look at this Balsam Hill favorite and you may decide you don’t need any other trappings for your holiday. The only way you could have less of an impact would be to skip the tree altogether.
A Year-Round Effort
There are a lot of great reasons to reduce your impact on the environment and a lot of simple things you can do during and after the holidays to protect your earthly home. What tips and tricks have you found to shrink your carbon footprint?