The holiday season is here! As you gather with friends and family to celebrate, take some time to plan ahead and make it a Green Holiday. For further tips, see Rye Sustainability’s Thanksgiving Tips post.
Trees. Natural or Artificial? For an excellent analysis of your Christmas tree’s carbon footprint, watch the BBC’s video. The takeaway: The best option is a potted, native tree, but if that’s not possible, consider a locally grown tree. Be mindful, however, of disposal. Ideally, your tree should be composted or incinerated.
For an artificial tree, the biggest impact on the environment comes from production, so the key is to reuse the tree. The BBC analysis estimates, roughly, ten years. But don’t fret: Overall your choice of a tree has a relatively small impact on your carbon footprint.
Lighting. LED lights are the most energy efficient and consume 70% less energy than conventional incandescent lights. Some are even solar powered!
LEDs are also more cost effective: According to the Department of Energy, “it only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. On top of that, they are significantly less likely to burn out or break compared to their incandescent forerunners.”
Remember to unplug those lights when not in use. Even better, use a timer to regulate lighting use.
Food. Remember, when you can, shop local for locally sourced food. Consider buying extra for those in need. A list of area organizations that accept food donations can be found here. Compost unwanted food.
Don’t toss leftovers! Send some home with guests or check the shelf-life and how best to store foods at Still Tasty.
Traveling. If you’re driving, plan ahead and try to carpool. Maybe this is the year to buy an electric vehicle. NY State has announced a series of broad-scale initiatives to benefit electric vehicles, including the expansion of public fast charger networks across the state, lower residential charging rates, and customer rebates for EV purchases.
Worried about all that holiday air travel pumping tons of C02 into the atmosphere? Ideally, you’d keep your air travel to a minimum or travel direct, but one bit of good news is that according to Wired Magazine, by 2021, “airlines that fly internationally will have to offset any extra emissions under a UN agreement (called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, agreed on in 2018 in Montreal, Canada).”
Cards. Consider e-cards this year or cards made with recycled content.
Plan Ahead - Ordering Gifts the “Eco” Way. According to the Rainforest Alliance, the emissions from one- or two-day shipping options “tend to be extreme in comparison to slower methods.” By contrast, if you opt out for a slower shipping time the shipper can wait to load up and schedule deliveries in a more efficient way.
Shop Responsibly. Plug-ins such as DoneGood, offer a simple way to discover hundreds of socially and environmentally responsible brands.
Shop Local. Support your local businesses by shopping for gifts in your hometown. And don’t forget that restaurants and food purveyors often offer gift certificates.
Gift wrap. Re-purpose wrapping paper or get creative and use what you have around the house: newspaper, magazines, pillow cases, containers… This site has some great ideas.
Green gifts. Consider purchasing environmentally friendly items that are recycled, reusable and durable. Some ideas:
A composting kit (for Rye’s Food Scrap Recycling initiative)!
A donation to an environmentally organization, or think local, and donate to the Branching Out for Rye Tree Fund.
A subscription to a CSA.
Products made from recycled materials. Many Rye food establishments are proud participants of RSC’s Put a Cork In It program. Corks are recycled into a number of products, including footwear and yoga blocks.