Deck the Halls with LED Lights: Five Tips for Seasonal Sustainability
By Mary Stokes
In this time of seasonal fun, it’s easy to get carried away by decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts, and picking a Christmas tree. It’s also easy to run up energy bills and spend more than you intended.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to have a more sustainable Christmas without spoiling the wonder of the season.
1) Choose your tree wisely
The age-old debate rages on today: real or artificial? And, officially, the answer to which is better lies with what kind of consumer you are.
Christmas trees are a commercial crop, albeit one with a longer growing period, but they are more green and sustainable than most crops. They filter carbon dioxide from the air and biodegrade much more quickly than plastics. You can dispose of a tree in a number of ways, and even run it through a wood chipper and make mulch for your garden.
If you’re committed to keeping the same tree, artificial can be a great choice for you. However, if you’re from the opposite end of the debate and want to be more sustainable, consider getting a pot-grown tree (not potted tree—you want a tree that was raised in a pot, not transplanted, in order to improve survivability). Fir trees can grow quickly, and a tree that is small one year will be the right size the next. And, when the tip starts brushing the ceiling, you can take it outside and plant it in your garden.
2) Use LED lights and timers
You’ve probably heard it before, but LED is better. While incandescent lights operate at 20% efficiency and give off the rest as heat energy, usually lasting only around a year, LED lights operate at 80% efficiency, give off only 20% as heat energy, and have a lifetime of 10 years. LED lights can be found everywhere, and are cheaper than ever.
Additionally, it’s wise to invest in a timer for both your indoor and outdoor lights. It’s easy to remember to turn the lights off when you don’t actually have to remember to turn them off!
3) Donate unwanted items and recycle
You know that old 28-inch TV you hope Santa replaces this year? And that umpteenth pair of socks from Grandma? How about the cheesy office coffee mug you’ll never use? Don’t throw any of them out; donate them to your local Goodwill or other second-hand store. Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Christmas season. Don’t fall into that category; donate your unwanted or replaced items where they will do the most good. And if they’re not worth passing on, be sure to appropriately recycle them based on your city’s guidelines.
4) Reuse wrapping paper, ribbon, and gift bags
If you’re one of the few who manages restraint while opening presents, then saving your wrapping paper is a great way to avoid creating trash and spending your hard earned cash on wrapping paper for next year.
Or, if like most of us, you gift-bagged everything, then be sure to save those gift bags, and all that annoying tissue paper! It might be a pain to de-crinkle it all, but if every household saved the majority of their wrapping paper, bags, and tissue paper, that would be one less bag of trash from each family going to the landfill.
Think of the population of your city. 50,000? 25,000? That means anywhere from 7,000–15,000 thousand families, and that many fewer bags of trash. It would equal a significant amount of less trash created.
While we know that not every family will be able to reuse their paper recycling is the next best option. Be sure to follow your city’s guidelines for recycling wrapping paper.
5) Make your own gifts
One of the better options for saving money is to simply make gifts rather than buy them. They are often times more meaningful to people, and don’t have to take much time to make. The possibilities are endless; check out this list of handmade gifts and instructions for some ideas.
Even something as simple as a homemade ornament or a knitted scarf can be more meaningful than an expensive toy or gadget. If you have children, put their creativity to work making cards or ornaments; they’ll enjoy it and so will you.
If you want to be even more green and sustainable, give the gift of your time, a coffee date to talk and catch up, an afternoon of baking and enjoying each other’s company, or a movie date with your spouse. You could offer to babysit for the young couple in your life so they can go out to dinner or give 10-minute massage coupons to your loved ones. Quality time is a precious gift that is often understated. It is undoubtedly one of the most meaningful gifts and your friends and family will treasure it.
There are plenty of ways to stay sustainable this holiday season. From LED lighting to creative gift-giving, sustainable practices can be found even during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
From all of us here at SES, Inc,
We hope you have a sustainable and blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year.