The holidays are a time to celebrate, but here is a fact only worthy of regret: we toss much more waste during the holiday season than at any other point in the year. Specifically, Americans produce 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, amounting to 6 million extra tons of garbage!
Regardless of your religious persuasion, wanton consumption is never considered virtuous. When we over-spend, over-eat and over-use, we are threatening the sustainability of the communities we love. Fortunately, greening your lifestyle is both fun and rewarding!
Bennu is happy to bring to you tips for reducing your environmental footprint during the holiday season. By following these recommendations, you can avoid some blatantly wasteful habits that lead to the holiday trash binge. Let’s celebrate the true spirit of the holidays, giving thanks for our blessings, friends and family, and the Earth we all share.
Save The Trees – Plants are efficient air cleaning machines. We need more of them alive, not dead. We especially can’t afford to use and discard trees as temporary ornaments or for waste paper. As an alternative to a Christmas tree, try a large evergreen plant. Wrap gifts in re-used and recyclable paper or place them in re-usable bags. Send e-cards or make homemade cards using recycled paper; if everyone sent just one less card, we would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Lights Off – Most of our electricity is generated by fossil fuels, such as coal, which emits greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. By rejecting gaudy holiday light displays, you save money and send a message that you care about the environment. If you must put up lights, choose energy-efficient LED’s, which last almost 10 times as long as their incandescent counterparts.
Eat More Vegetables – Your diet provides one of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint. Just reducing your meat consumption is a good starting point when considering New Year’s resolutions to benefit the environment. One year of being a “weekday vegetarian” saves 0.7 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. There are many healthy and delicious non-animal proteins on the market that your family is sure to enjoy.
Buy Responsible – No matter what gifts you plan to give or receive, there are greener versions available. Options include recycled, recyclable, energy-efficient, renewable-powered, organic, local, cruelty-free, fair-trade and non-toxic. Free resources, such as GoodGuide, allow you to quickly and remotely get the safety, social and environmental facts on almost every product under the sun. The information is available; use it to your advantage.
Give Over Get – The “Escape from Affluenza” project found that a simpler life can lead to greater happiness. Many of us are drowning in stuff and need more of it like a hole in the head. On the other hand, many people throughout the world lack the basic necessities for a decent standard of living. Rather than buying things you or your friends don’t need, consider giving your time, money or gifts to those who will benefit most.
The holidays present a new opportunity to express our values through our actions. Whether you’re ready for small sustainable steps, or great green leaps, it all counts and we salute you.
Cheers from all of us at Bennu, and happy (greener) holidays!