Saving energy with holiday lights

Consider switching to LED lights for all your holiday décor. They last longer, won’t burn out, and are safer to use than normal lights because they don’t heat up. LED lights can be up to 90 per cent more efficient than normal incandescent lights. If you have outdoor lights, you can also invest in a timer so that the lights switch off by themselves and don’t stay on all night.

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Going green with decorations

There’s a lot you can do to decorate your home without resorting to plastic and fake decorations. You can make decorations from cardboard, paper, and recycled or natural elements, such as a wreath made from old holiday cards.

If you celebrate Christmas and can’t imagine the holiday without a tree, then consider getting a “living tree”, which is usually a slightly smaller potted evergreen that you can plant outside once spring arrives. Also, you may think that getting a fake tree instead of cutting down a real one is better, but that’s not necessarily true. You would have to reuse a fake tree for one or two decades, according to several studies, to make it a more environmentally-friendly choice than a real tree. And in the end, most fake trees end up in landfills. Real trees have a green purpose before and after the holidays. Tree farms are carbon sinks, and after the tree has been cut down and used, it can be recycled into mulch or wood chips to use in the garden.

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Giving thoughtful gifts

One way to save on energy and resources is to gift experiences instead of things. Think of something that you’d be able to do yourself, or give a gift card for an experience, such as a massage. You can even research eco-friendly options or buy gifts from organizations that donate to charities for conservation.

Also, consider going to local holiday markets where you could cut down on the carbon footprint of your gift by buying from local artists and craft makers. For things like stocking-stuffers try making your own gifts, such as cookies, and for holiday cards consider sending e-cards.

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Reusing and recycling wrapping paper

There’s a lot of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle with wrapping paper for gifts. If you can, forego packaging for your gifts entirely. However, if unwrapping gifts is part of what you like about the holiday experience, then there are other ways to save. The old cliché of newspapers can be spiced up with a ribbon and then recycled after the holidays (actual wrapping paper can’t be recycled because of the high ink content). Or you could use other materials you have lying around, such as a calendar that’s about to go out-of-date, and make your own wrapping paper. If you’re using bags, paper gift bags, made from recycled materials, are common in stores now. And finally, there’s nothing wrong with reusing old wrapping paper whenever you can.

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