There are plenty of ways to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle this winter, even if the weather isn’t particularly friendly to you. Below are eight tips to make your winter a little bit easier on the earth.
Pass on Paper
Gift-wrapping paper, that is. It’s incredible just how much paper we use around the holidays. Make a promise not to buy any new wrapping paper or gift bags in which to wrap your presents. Instead, use leftovers from years past or get creative with old newspapers, magazines, and other paper you have lying around. You can even check out your own backyard for decorative leaves and branches to use in place of store-bought ribbon. No matter what, be sure to recycle the paper you decide to use in order to save your trash from unnecessarily entering landfills.
Give the Gift of New Appliances
It is surely an investment, but ENERGY STAR appliances can make all of the difference in terms of your home’s efficiency. When you buy a dishwasher or washing machine with this logo, it means that it will cut down on pollution and that it runs more efficiently than comparable models. The Environmental Protection Agency predicts that we could cut down on 25 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions if we switched to ENERGY STAR appliances. How’s that for a greener winter?
Watch Your Water Usage
Whether you’ve baked a warm winter casserole for the family or thrown a holiday party for 20, you’ll have plenty of dishes to do this winter season. And, while it might be tempting to rinse everything before you throw it in the dishwasher, you should try removing as much food as you can without water. While scraping takes more time, it cuts down on water usage. Furthermore, your dishwasher won’t have to work as hard, which’ll save you extra cycles in the future.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, there are still ways to cut down on the water you use to wash and rinse. Rather than washing a dish and then immediately rinsing it, wash a dish and then sit it aside. Once you’ve finished washing everything, run water to rinse it. That way, you can use less water on both ends. Your local water supply will thank you.
Let a New Light Shine
If you’ve been wrapping your holiday tree in old Christmas lights, you’re doing the environment — and your wallet — a disservice. These old models waste a lot more electricity than their modern counterparts, which often boast high-efficiency LED bulbs. What’s more, LED bulbs don’t burn as hot as their predecessors, which makes your home safer.
Reuse or Recycle Your Tree
Many families will deck their halls with a holiday tree this winter. It’s not a good idea to throw your tree to the curb as soon as the season’s over, though. Instead, there are plenty of Earth-friendly ways to recycle your Christmas tree: did you know that you could sink it into a pond to make a fish refuge? You could also use it to make mulch, garden barriers, bird feeders, and more — so long as you use it to do good, you can feel better about buying a holiday tree this season.
Cut Down on Car Time
It’s hard to breathe the fresh air in winter — no one has ever wanted to inhale an icicle, after all. And, while it’s cozy and convenient to zip around in a heated car, you could get around in a much greener way. Take, for example, your holiday shopping trips. It’d be easy to run out multiple times to pick up everything you need, or head to the stores when a gift idea strikes you. This method, however, guzzles gas. To make your holiday shopping excursions greener, try and condense them into a single excursion. This might require some planning ahead, but the plan is worth it: you’ll save resources, energy, and your own time, too. Look for work carpools, local transit routes, and other ways to cut down on your commuting time and use of resources.
Help Your Heater
One of the costliest things you’ll have to pay in winter is your heating bill. Equally as painful is how many natural resources your home requires to stay warm. You can do your part by caulking any leaks in your home’s shell where warm air might slip outside. Check around window sills, door frames, and other areas where something cuts through the drywall, as these spots are most prone to shifting and cracking. You can also weatherize old windows with plastic sheets to keep as much cold air from seeping into your living space. Bigger problems might require new insulation. No matter what, you’ll give your heater less work to do, which lets the earth breathe a bit easier.
Tune Everything Up
We’re not talking about holiday music here. As winter approaches, it’s important to make sure that your heater is in working order. A mechanic can come out and inspect it to ensure you that it’s in the best possible shape; he or she can fix any little issues that could cause problems in the future. To that end, you could also hire a certified energy rater to come out and judge your home’s efficiency level. This service reveals potential energy issues and gets you on the road to green living this winter and for many winters to come.