From grand gestures to the smallest details, there are many ways to bring sustainability into the holiday season. Sustainability, or “going green,” is the responsible use of environmental resources so that future generations will have enough to meet their needs. This time of year is a great time to think about being more sustainable, for the holidays and all year long. Here are a few ways to make changes this Christmas that will benefit the planet in the long run.
Sustainable Christmas trees
The most sustainable option for a Christmas tree is to buy or rent a live potted tree with roots and replant it after the holidays. If this is not a practical option, buying a real tree rather than an artificial one is the greenest choice. Real trees have a smaller carbon footprint than artificial ones, which can take 10 or more years to “pay” for themselves environmentally.
Choose eco-friendly alternatives for disposing of real trees, too. For example, chipping is better than having the tree end up in a landfill. Many communities will collect Christmas trees curbside after the holidays and then chip them to create mulch for use in public plantings.
Eco-friendly alternatives for gift wrapping
With the season of peak consumption at hand, it’s not surprising that waste levels globally increase by 25-30% during the holidays, including reams of wrapping paper destined for landfills. Look for gift wrap and Christmas cards made from recycled or recyclable paper. Anything sparkly, shiny or glossy is most likely not recyclable. As a test, crumple up a small piece of the paper. If it stays crumpled up, it’s recyclable. Or make your own recyclable gift wrap by using newspapers, brown paper with twine, or magazine pages. Wrapping with cloth or using cloth gift bags is another eco-friendly idea, plus the cloth wraps are reusable.
The grand gesture: give the gift of an electric vehicle this holiday season
As the TV commercials like to remind us, ‘this the season for giving a new car to that special person in your life’. If a car is on your list this year, make it an electric vehicle (EV) and give the gift of sustainable driving. EV sales are projected to reach 5.6 million in 2021, nearly doubling the sales from 2020 and tripling that of 2019. Across the globe, automakers are targeting sales of 40 million EVs per year by 2030. Unlike gas-powered cars or hybrids, zero-emission EVs run entirely on electricity. And with the increase in sustainable power generation, EVs will someday run on 100% renewable energy.
Sustainable gifts for the home: smart EV charging and smart meters
For that EV wrapped up with a big bow, you’ll need a way to charge it at home. That’s where 80% of EV charging takes place. While it can be as simple as plugging the car into the outlet, you can do much more with a smart charger. Hard-wired to your home’s electric service and equipped with WiFi, the smart charger and its downloadable app you can initiate or turn off a charge, check on charging progress, and monitor energy consumption. Smart electricity meters work in a similar way. Typically, they let you manage energy use, set up alerts and monitor daily usage through a mobile app. It’s estimated that if everyone in the UK had a smart meter, 11% of the country’s 2050 net-zero carbon emissions goal would be met.
Go one step further and install home solar panels and bi-directional meters that send excess energy to the grid. Between smart meters, home solar panels and the storage capacity of EV batteries, smart homes can minimize the draw on the grid, using solar panels and the EV in the garage to power home appliances and everything else.
Switch to LED Christmas lights
Here’s a small detail that will deliver immediate results: LED Christmas lights. They use 80% less energy than incandescent lights and they are cooler too, increasing safety and your tree’s life. LED lights also last longer than standard light strings, offsetting the higher upfront cost. You can also connect up to 50 mini-light strings together, so you can decorate with fewer outlets used.
No matter how you celebrate, please keep our planet in mind and have a very merry, very green holiday.
Best wishes from all of us at Driivz.