While it may come as a shock, winter is one of the worst months for negative human impact on the environment. From neglecting good recycling habits to irresponsibly using energy, many people fail to consider their environmental impact during the colder months. If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, there are plenty of ways to go green this coming holiday season.
Stick with Seasonal Produce
While grocery stores carry strawberries, kiwis, lemons, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables year-round, it’s often at the expense of our environment. Shipping in out-of-season produce via ships results in massive carbon dioxide emissions, contributing significantly to global warming. Thankfully, apples, clementines, and plenty of other winter seasonal foods are readily available and can be enjoyed guilt-free. If you don’t have the patience to learn which products are in season, stick to stores that carry locally sourced produce rather than imports, as their selection will reflect the most sustainable options.
Optimize Your Home Heating
With temperatures dropping, most homeowners are dusting off their heaters to keep warm. Before winter fully sets in, schedule an appointment with an HVAC company like Derek Sawyers Smart Energy Heating & Air to have your climate control system evaluated to make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible. An optimized system will save you money on your energy bill and also protect against dangerous malfunctions, especially with gas heaters that can emit harmful levels of carbon dioxide if they aren’t serviced regularly. To help support your heater, make sure windows, door frames, and other areas are properly insulated to maximize how well your home retains heat.
Salting and Shoveling
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s easy to pack on pounds during the holidays. Rather than paying for a gym membership, get an outdoor workout by shoveling your front steps and driveway instead of using a snowblower or plow. These methods require the use of gasoline or electricity, emitting harmful environmental gases or upping your energy bill respectively. By shoveling walkways yourself, you can lower your carbon emissions and indulge in a few extra desserts guilt-free thanks to the intense workout. If you have some time to spare, consider shoveling your neighbors’ properties to add a little more money to your gift-buying budget.
Recycle Your Christmas Tree
There’s nothing wrong with opting for a natural Christmas tree, provided you put it to good use after the holiday season is over. Pine needles make excellent mulch, so if you have a garden patch in your yard, carefully remove the branches and shake the needles over your designated spot. If there’s too much snow coverage, simple store a healthy supply of the needles in a sealed plastic tote or other container for later use during planting season. Christmas tree needles decompose slowly and do not mold, so long term storage is perfectly safe. If you’re the DIY type, you can get some use out of the trunk as well. Its round shape makes it the perfect base for building some natural drink coasters, and a good sized tree should give you plenty of material to make a few extra to hand out as gifts next year.
Use Water Responsibly
While there’s nothing quite like a hot bath or shower during the winter months, you may literally be pouring money down the drain. Simply lowering your home’s water temperature a modest few degrees not only helps the environment by lowering your energy consumption, but can also save you some money on your next bill. Dropping your hot water temperature from 140 degrees to 120 will still give you plenty of warm water for baths and dishes, but can also cut your annual bill by as much as $60, giving you a few extra dollars for buying presents while also lowering your carbon footprint.
Every season offers its own unique ways to reduce your negative impact on the environment. During the winter months, focus on responsible energy usage, eat in-season foods, and find creative recycling methods for your Christmas tree, wreathes, and even wrapping paper. With a few simple steps, you can fully enjoy the holiday season while making your life more environmentally conscious.