Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Credit: kevindooley via Flickr

Credit: kevindooley via Flickr

Wishing you a ‘green’ festive season – from all of us in “Environment EXCO Office, Selangor State Government”.  Here’s a list of some eco-friendly, energy saving tips that will put you at the top of Santa’s nice list this holiday season.

Use LED Lights

These small Light Emitting Diodes use 80% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, plus they’re cool to the touch. Look for the Energy Star seal for ones with the highest energy efficiency rating.

Limit Lighting
Turn Christmas trees on only when you’re in the room to enjoy them. Turn outside decorations off before you go to bed at night, or put them on a timer that will remember to do it for you.  In general lighting accounts for 15% of household electricity, and 100-string Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 60 balloons – so make sure you get energy saving light bulbs for your house, and at Xmas, try these LED rope lights for your Xmas tree.

Candles
Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residues so neither do your health or the environment any good. Soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based candles are better because they biodegrade, are smoke-free, and so more eco friendly.

Send E-Cards
Replace snail mail cards and letters with e-cards and e-mails to save paper and mailing expense. It also will reduce your carbon footprint since it eliminates the fuel used for transporting standard mail.  An estimated 1.7 billion Christmas cards are sent each year in Britain, the equivalent of 200,000 trees, and around 1 million Christmas cards are thrown away every year. Try to send recycled Christmas cards, but you could make your own, or send texts or e-cards instead. After the big day, make sure your Christmas cards don’t go to waste – take them to recycle. You can buy recycled Christmas cards from charities and donate up to 20% to less fortunate people at the same time.

Shop Online
Rather than burning fuel driving around searching for that perfect Christmas present, shop online instead. Having your gifts shipped directly to out of town recipients saves even more energy by minimizing transportation costs.

Give Green Gifts
Consider giving eco-friendly or homemade gifts to those on your shopping list. Purchased green presents include:

  • Energy saving items
  • Books on green living
  • Bicycles
  • Mass transit passes (Touch N Go)
  • Gift vouchers to health food stores or organic restaurants
  • Membership in an organic farm or co-op
  • Donations to organizations that support the environment

Homemade presents include:

  • Baked goods and other food items
  • Paintings and photographs
  • Pottery and ceramics
  • Sewing and knitting
  • Handmade ornaments
  • Woodworking projects

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping
There’s no point recycling rubbish if you don’t buy recycled products! It’s estimated that 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper end up in our rubbish bins each year, so make sure that you use recycled wrapping paper, and try to wrap presents with ribbon or string instead of sticky tape.  Here are some ways to reduce the waste from gift wrapping:

  • Buy gift wrap made from recycled materials.
  • Make your own gift wrap from cloth and other materials.
  • Save wrapping paper from gifts you receive to use next year.
  • Reuse boxes for shipping and gifts, rather than buying new ones.
  • Recycle wrapping paper (if allowed by your recycling service) and boxes rather than throwing them away.

Green Christmas Tree
Visit a local Christmas tree farm and cut down your own tree. Not only is it a fun family activity, but it eliminates the transportation required for shipped trees. Try to find an organic tree farm that is pesticide free to reduce the toxins in your home.  Make sure the tree has Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation.

If you’ve been wondering which is better, the simple answer is that real trees are the more eco friendly choice. Although artificial trees last for many years they are made from metal and derivatives of PVC, which requires large amounts of energy to make, and also creates by-products such as lead which can be harmful to both the environment and human health. The average life of an artificial tree is just 6 years and given that they are not naturally biodegradable they will potentially pollute a landfill site for many years to come. Most artificial trees sold in the UK are now made in Taiwan and China and so have additional energy costs associated with transport. Real trees are carbon neutral, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as they grow as they will emit when burnt or left to decompose. They are also a wildlife habitat and a naturally renewable resource, and generally feel much nicer in your home. They can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year.

Make Natural Decorations
Rather than buying plastic ornaments, wreaths, and decorations shipped from overseas, make your own from pine cones, holly, seashells, river stones, and evergreen branches. Christmas tree lots often will give away branches they’ve trimmed off the bottom of trees.  Instead of spending money on artificial Christmas decorations that won’t biodegrade, let nature decorate your home. House decorations can be made from organic, recycled and scrap materials. Try popcorn, dough, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, holly, seasonal berries, ivy and evergreen branches – once you have finished with them, you can put them in the composter.

Recycle Decorations
After the holidays, but sure to recyle your Christmas tree and other natural decorations rather than sending them to the landfill.

Be battery wise
Families can get through a lot of batteries, particularly at Christmas. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, don’t biodegrade and are difficult to recycle. Instead use rechargeable ones or try our new battery wizard, it’ll charge even ordinary batteries, or you could try these AA size USB rechargeable batteries. By opening the cap and plugging into a USB connector, you can recharge them pretty much anywhere there’s a USB socket. You’ll never have to search for a charger again.

Reduce Travel
Between shopping, trips to visit relatives, and the flurry of parties and other activities, the holiday season often involves a lot of travel, which in turn adds more pollutants to the atmosphere. Every gallon of gasoline used by your car releases 19.4 pounds of CO2, and air travel is equally bad. So if you really want to go green, consider limiting your travel plans this year.

Recycle your unwanted presents
Unfortunately everyone receives at least one unwanted gift at Christmas. I often recycle my unwanted presents to charities. Local hospitals and hospices are often very pleased to receive unwanted smellies to give to patients. Or you could try our regifting forum – and swap them for other people’s unwanted gifts!

Tips Sources
http://www.nigelsecostore.com/acatalog/Green_Christmas.html
http://www.dannylipford.com/how-to-have-a-green-eco-friendly-christmas/

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