Enjoy a Sustainable Holiday Season
Keeping the health of our families, homes and planet in mind during the holidays.
As sustainable consciousness spreads throughout our country, people on a daily basis are increasingly aspiring to be more environmentally responsible. With the holiday season approaching, it’s very easy to fall back to our old habits. Commit to making this time of the year your sustainable challenge so you will end the year and begin the New Year with the noble habit of caring better for your family, home and planet.
Plan Early and Wisely
Get your entire family involved early as possible. Start discussing green and sustainability topics during Thanksgiving dinner. Discuss greener gift giving, Christmas tree and decorative options, and consuming healthier foods. This is a wonderful chance to develop a new and more meaningful holiday tradition instead of going along with all the commercialism.
Basics to Consider
Travel. If you are a solo traveler, no matter if you have a hybrid car or a gas-guzzler, driving really does not measure well in terms of emissions. If you have to travel a long distance in the U.S., the bus is the least emitting option, with trains coming in about double the emissions. The advantage of the train is you might have internet access and you might get some work done while making the best of your travel time. This is probably why people favor trains more. Flying is the most carbon-intense option. If you are not flying first class then this is the least comfortable. Plus, you will need to include the security hassles, the high priced and questionable quality airport food. Although, the best thing flying has going for it is speed.
Gift Giving. Buy American, our economy needs the boost. Support your local retailers, craft and artisan shops. Buy recycled and green products coming from our shores. This reduces transportation costs and pollution. Invest in gifts recipients truly need. Choose a gift that promotes awareness of environmental issues. Consider the material used and how it was produced. Give durable items that replace disposable ones because much of what we give ends up in landfills. Give battery-free gifts. Accordingly to the EPA, about 40% of all batteries sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Eventually rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream.
Holiday Cards. Sending holiday cards is a traditional way to catch up with family and friends. Think about how many cards you want to send and try to make this custom greener. Look for cards and envelopes that are made from recycled paper for older family members and friends who do not use email, and for everyone else switch to electronic cards. Electronic cards let you include photos, videos and music to your personal message.
Gift Wrap. Gift presentation is a traditional part of holiday giving. It adds fun and anticipation to wondering what is inside the package. Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper made from fibers such as hemp. Look for paper using recycled content. Avoid purchasing glossy foils or metallic wrapping paper because it’s difficult to recycle. Reuse gift-wraps and gift bags when possible. If you feel like being creative, make your own gift wrap from fabrics, newspapers, and magazines. Use tape sparingly.
Trees. Real trees are the sustainable choice whether fresh cut or potted. Buy from local pesticide-free tree farms. Even though plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, plastic trees are made from petroleum products (PVC) and use many resources in both manufacturing and shipping. As plastic trees are repeatedly reused they become tired, less attractive and eventually are sent to landfills where the plastic content causes them to exist indefinitely. Real trees are a renewable resource, grown and sold at local farms, and are replanted regularly. They contribute to better air quality while growing. Real trees save both in transportation costs and air pollution. Almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch.
Energy and Holiday Lights. Enjoy the colorful and festive outdoor and indoor lights. Switch to energy efficient LED holiday lights, which use up to 90% less energy. If one of the LED lights burns out the rest will stay lit. Set lights on an automatic timer.
Food. Buy locally sourced food. Buy organic or free-range food and support fair trade foods. Buy food with minimal packaging. Avoid disposable plates and cups or buy biodegradable ones, which can be composted.
Wishing you a warm and joyous holiday season!
Lynn has more than 25 years interior design experience working in architecture and interior design firms nationally and internationally producing Corporate, Commercial, Civic, Hospitality and Prestigious Residential projects for Fortune 500 and celebrity clients, architects and builders. Through her in-depth experience she has developed the design ability to see potential in all spaces, and to create innovative, customized design solutions that meet the highest standards of efficiency, quality and sophistication. She has been a long-time professional advocate for sustainable and environmentally conscious design. Lynn is the principal of her firm LHD located in Stamford, CT.
Lynn Hoffman, Principal
IIDA, RID, LEED AP ID+C