Trimming trees, spending time with loved ones, hearing your favorite Wham! songs on the radio – yes, the holidays are once again upon us. While this certainly is a magical time of year, all of the gift-giving, travel, and parties also make it the most wasteful time of year. But what can you do short of cancelling your holiday plans? Well, my fellow (wo)manatees, you’ve come to the right place. This holiday season, we have been blessed with an outline for celebrating sustainably. Behold, I giveth unto thee Four Green Holiday Commanateements!
The holiday season is the busiest travel season of the year as millions journey to see family and friends. I prefer traveling the high seas but if you’re planning a road trip, a tune-up and properly inflated tires can improve your gas milage by ten percent. If you’re traveling by air, consider purchasing a non-stop ticket to conserve fuel and look into carbon credits which offset your emissions by planting carbon-storing trees. Before you leave for your holiday vacation, turn off all appliances in your home and set the thermostat to 55º to avoid heating unused spaces.
Another simple way to green up your holiday is to consolidate your shopping trips. A little planning can save you time and money while helping the environment. Even better, you could do your holiday shopping on the world wide web this year. Studies show that online shopping reduces carbon impact by about thirty percent! Remember, haste makes waste and waste kills manatees. The more you know…
The holidays are synonymous with food. Lots of food. Although I’m trying to watch my figure, I do enjoy a holiday spread! How can a manatee “have it’s sea grass and eat it too?” Through buying local, organic foods! Buying locally has a wide range of positive effects, from creating jobs to reducing carbon pollution. Plus, frequenting local shops helps you connect with your community – a great way to celebrate the season. Choosing organic products is not only better for your health, it helps the environment as well. Farmers on organic farms use sustainable practices and hold themselves to higher ethical standards in the treatment of their livestock. This holiday season, make an effort to go local and organic whenever possible.
While artificial trees may seem eco-friendly, they typically end up in landfills after a couple of years where they stay. Forever. Plus, there are ways to make your holiday tree more sustainable. Consider a potted tree that can be used for several years, then planted. In the Southwest, cacti can be used in the same way and make a great conversation piece. For your other decor, consider recycling last years’ ornaments and choosing LED holiday lights. LED lights use up to 95% less energy, won’t take an entire strand down if one light goes out, and last ten times longer than conventional bulbs.
Gift giving is tradition this time of year, and with a little forethought you can give without hurting the planet. Did you know that almost half of the paper consumed in America is used to wrap and decorate products? This holiday, try using magazines, old maps, wallpaper, or sheet music to cut down on waste. Steer clear of shiny, metallic papers which can’t be recycled and when shipping gifts use newspaper and cardboard instead of Styrofoam.
As for gifts, our friends at treehugger.com have put together a great green gift guide to help with your holiday shopping. You can also check out climatecounts.org, a site that rates major retailers’ environmental responsibility so you can make informed purchasing decisions. If you’re still stuck, may I suggest the greenest gift of them all…ecoKits! Competitively priced ecoKits’ include everything you need for a solar system (racking, inverters, modules) – just add an installation crew! ecoKits are a gift that keep on giving for 25 years or more, ensuring green holiday seasons for years to come. This holiday season, remember the 4 Commanateements and make this (solar) Manatee proud!