The holiday season is upon us! While you are scurrying about, checking your holiday chores off the list, donít forget to green up your homes and your celebrations. No matter what holiday you celebrate, there are always small changes you can make that have a big impact ó think sustainably.
Start with chaining your holiday trips and consolidating shopping excursions as much as possible. This will save a great deal of time and money if you take a moment to plan. Purchase gifts from local businesses rather than chain stores to support your communityís economy.
Here are some additional tips to make your holiday season green:
Stringing up holiday lights? Try more energy efficient light emitting diode, or LED lights. Not only are they safer and more durable than traditional lights, they consume up to 90 percent less energy.
Leaving home or getting ready for bed? Donít forget to power down your holiday light displays during daylight hours, when you are not at home and when you go to bed to conserve energy this holiday season.
Youíve got your gifts. Now what? Be sure to choose a recyclable gift wrap or gift wrap that contains recycled materials. Or you could do something really different and use reusable wrappings such as tins, decorative boxes or fabric instead of disposable paper wrappings.
Decorating can be beautiful and environmentally friendly. Try incorporating nature in your decorations with materials such as pine cones, branches, cranberries, greenery, dried fruit and flowers, nuts, and shells.
A little preparation goes a long way. When you are planning your holiday meals and getting the grocery list together, try incorporating local foods into the menu. Local farmerís markets are a great place to shop for fresh and seasonal meats, fruit and vegetables. Once the meal is over, donít throw away those leftovers, reinvent them. Leftovers are delicious in soups, stews, casseroles, or sandwiches and will save you time and money.
Not sure what to get the person who has everything? Think outside of the traditional gift box and give the gift of an experience. Movie passes, club memberships, event tickets or gift certificates for a service are sure to make everyone happy.
At your holiday party, consider reusable dining ware instead of disposable items. Canít get away from disposable items? Use one-time use items made from biodegradable or compostable materials. If possible, avoid Styrofoam.
Be sure to recycle as much waste as possible.
Sometimes unwanted gifts happen. Do not toss them in the garbage. Instead, donate them to charity.
Holiday clean-up can be green. Clean post-holiday messes with environmentally friendly cleaning products. Carefully pack your holiday decorations, excess wrapping supplies and other holiday materials in reusable containers so they may be used again next year.
As a military member or dependent, there are some unique challenges around the holidays. Some service members are deployed and Family is usually far away. Often, holiday gifts are sent through the mail. To keep your packages green, avoid Styrofoam and plastic packaging materials. Instead, pad your presents with materials such as recycled newspaper, shredded office paper and biodegradable ďpeanuts.Ē
When planning for holiday travel, donít forget to check the air pressure in your tires. Air pressure tends to decrease during cold winter months. This is not only unsafe, but it causes you to use more fuel. Maintaining the vehicle manufacturerís suggested tire pressure level maximizes fuel efficiency, vehicle steering and handling, and the life of your tires.
No matter where you are, spending quality time with your Family and friends is what the holiday season is all about. Create a new, sustainable holiday tradition such as a nature hike with the Family, visiting a local park to feed the wildlife, or spending some time volunteering for a community charity. Not only is this a greener alternative, the memories youíll have of time spent together will be priceless.
Lastly, resolve to be sustainable in 2017. Need help or ideas on ways to be sustainable? Please visit www.facebook.com/SustainableFortBragg for more information.