Did you know, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw away one million extra tons of garbage each week?
Many celebrate the holidays as a season of giving, and one of the most important gifts we can give is to make choices that help ensure a sustainable future for our community and environment. “Going Green” is easier than you think, and small changes can make a big difference.
Here are a few eco-friendly decorating tips to get you in the spirit of “going green” this holiday season:
A favorite holiday activity is the tour of beautiful lights adorning homes and businesses in our community. While lovely to look at, holiday lighting can increase energy consumption.
When decorating with lights, consider more efficient LED bulbs. Though more costly up front, they last longer and use less electricity. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost about $18, while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
Christmas Trees: Live or Fake?
For some, the Christmas tree is a focal point of holiday decorations. Artificial trees are a first choice for many because they can be displayed for several years, and seemingly reduce the number of trees being cut down.
Surprisingly though, live Christmas trees may actually be the most sustainable choice. Most are grown on tree farms where, in many cases, represent the only crop the soil can support. They also provide shelter for native animal and bird species.
Many artificial trees, however, are made with petroleum-based plastics and have a much larger carbon footprint than live trees. This is largely due to their manufacturing origin, which is often international countries like China.
Buying a live tree from a local tree farm or stand, also supports local businesses, and in turn, the community.
TIP: If you’re planning to go with a live tree, remember to recycle it when the season ends. You can mulch the tree or process it into firewood.
While bright shiny tinsel and plastic snowflakes look very nice around the house, they contribute to a significant amount of annual holiday waste. Using organic material for holiday decorations is a great way to decorate in a sustainable manner. Many stores sell live wreaths, holiday arrangements or ornaments. Don’t forget! Organic decorations can be composted. Check out these tips for composting.
*"Decorating Green for the Holidays". (Dec. 15, 2016) Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority.
Retrieved from, http://www.lcswma.org/blog/post.cfm/decorating-green-for-the-holidays
There is a growing trend among commercial and residential owners to choose net zero or near zero building design and construction. Zero energy buildings have better insulation, are air-tight and more energy efficient than ordinary buildings.
Such buildings provide almost equivalent renewable energy as their annual consumption so that the occupants will have a carbon-free home or office with zero-energy bill.
Zero Energy Homes
Zero energy homes are way beyond ‘green’ homes. The design brings together superior building systems and advanced design involving on-site solar panels and energy efficiency to create better homes. Some of the key features of such homes include:
Net-zero buildings are the most eco-friendly buildings and look like conventional buildings. They produce all the energy that is consumed using a wide range of strategies. Such buildings are affordable, economic and an increasing number of homeowners and business owners want to invest in them. At the end of the year, such buildings can do much more than generate more energy that what is consumed by the occupants. Some of the key benefits of such buildings include the following:
1. More Comfort & Improved Health
Net zero or near-zero buildings are more comfortable and healthier to live in. Such buildings are designed and built to higher standards. The focus of the design and construction is on the following features:
2. Net-Zero Homes Save Money
Even if the initial cost of investment is slightly high in such buildings, they save you money in the long-term. The cost of living in such homes is much lower compared to conventional homes, allowing you to recoup the initial investment in the long run. Such buildings are also shielded from the increase in energy costs. You will continue to bear the same cost to run the same electrical fittings even after a decade.
3. Net Zero Buildings are Durable
Another benefit of net zero buildings is that they are more durable. Quality is one of the cornerstones of construction of such buildings. They feature the use of materials that help ensure thicker and air-tight walls. They feature sophisticated window systems and the use of natural resources to create more durable and stronger building structure.
Net zero or near-zero buildings are superior to most of the currently used building designs and concepts. Thus, there are many benefits of investing in such a building. There is a growing trend in Calgary and across Alberta to invest in such building that prove to be much more cost effective in the long-term.
*Bizek, Gary. (Sept. 28, 2017). What Are Net Zero & Near Zero Buildings & Their Benefits?
Retrieved from, http://www.azimuthbuilders.com/blog/what-are-net-zero-near-zero-buildings-their-benefits/.
Go green and save money at the same time you say? Some say this is impossible, however there are ways to go green on a tight budget.
During the Great Depression people had to learn to be creative and discover ways to reuse things and get the most out of their money. It is unfortunate that it sometimes take hard times to get people thinking about ways to save money, but it is the smart person who looks at these times as opportunities to become more eco-friendly while saving money. You don't have to say that you are riding the bus because gas is too expensive; say you are trying out some environmentally friendly alternatives. We will look at some practical ways to save your hard earned dollars, recycle, reuse, and reduce to become an environmentalist trendsetter.
Now I am not suggesting that you go out and replace every appliance, light bulb, light fixture, etc. in your home, however if you find that it is time to replace something consider the energy saving options that are available. In the long run you will notice a considerable savings in your utility bill. Let's take a look at where energy is used most in a home. The largest portion of your energy is generally used in cooling or heating your home, approximately 60 percent. An average of 15 percent of energy is used in heating water; 13 percent in running refrigerators; 12 percent is used on everything else (such as TVs, lights, washer, dryer, cooking).
Here are some suggestions that you can use reusable items as opposed to disposable one:
Newspaper is handy for much more than reading, here are a few useful tips:
* Hooper, Tonia. (n.d.). Living Green on a Budget. Retrieved from, http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/maintenance-and-repair/sustainability/living-green-on-a-budget.