(BPT) – During the holiday season it’s easy to get swept away in the excitement of gifts and entertaining. As you’re enjoying the holiday also bear in mind that some simple shifts can lessen your impact on the environment.
Consider these five easy ways to “green” your holidays so you can enjoy traditions while doing a little bit of good for the planet.
Make your own wrapping paper
Most traditional wrapping paper isn’t recyclable and ends up in landfills. Instead, wrap presents with old maps, newspaper, magazines or children’s artwork. You can also use clothing items or other household items that act as both a gift and wrapping, including a scarf or decorative dish towel. If this isn’t an option, package your gifts in an eye-catching basket or container that can be repurposed after the holidays.
If you can’t avoid traditional wrapping paper and supplies, consider reusing. Save the bags and other wrapping paper to use next year. If you are buying paper, look for post-consumer recycled paper to limit plastics.
Swap out toxic cleaning products
With visitors coming to your home over the holidays you might be cleaning more. Yet many cleaning products contain ingredients that can be harmful to people and animals in your home. Opt for products that are free of parabens, formaldehyde, ammonia, phthalates and phosphates. Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner and Hard-Surface Cleaner (also available in a premium spray mop) are water-based, biodegradable and crafted with plant-derived ingredients. Learn more at Bona.com.
Start by investing in one U.S. EPA Safer Choice Certified cleaning solution and stock up as you run out of other, less safe cleaners. Also, switch out paper towels or other non-recyclable cleaning tools for post-consumer recyclable options like Bona microfiber cleaning pads.
Rethink your lights
LED lights use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights and last around 200,000 hours. Not only are you helping the environment, but you’ll save money on your energy bills during the holiday season.
In addition to swapping bulbs, put your regular lights on a timer or motion detector to eliminate the amount of time they are on throughout the season. This is especially helpful if you or your family members often forget to turn off lights when not in use.
Green your tree
Millions of fir trees are cut down in the United States each year for the holidays. And while artificial trees can be reused year after year, when it comes time to dispose of these trees, most cannot be recycled. Instead, consider buying a potted tree and then planting it in your own yard or a neighbor’s following the holiday.
If you’re still getting a traditional tree, make sure you search for a recycling program near you to properly dispose of the tree after the holidays. Some people opt to recycle their tree themselves by turning it into something useful, such as mulch or sinking it into a private pond to support the fish habitat.
Rethink your meals
According to research done by Carnegie Mellon University, the carbon footprint of a 16-pound turkey creates a total of 34.2 pounds of CO2 — the same amount produced by turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, rolled biscuits and apple pie combined. Consider ditching the turkey this year or at least substituting for a smaller portion.
If turkey is a must, source and buy local to keep your carbon footprint to a minimum. You could also consider a different way of preparing it. For instance, a turkey cooked sous vide, a method of sealing and boiling food, has less carbon emissions than the traditional methods and also makes for a moister version of this classic that many times dries out in the oven.
As you enjoy this holiday season consider these few small shifts that will be better for your home, family and our planet.