Every holiday season, residential electricity use in Calgary peaks. Claire Beckstead, Corporate Environmental Specialist for The City of Calgary says it doesn’t have to be complicated to green your holiday plans. “There are many simple green actions Calgarians can take that reduce our impact on the environment while keeping the fun and excitement of the season.”
- Choose efficient holiday lights: Consider cutting back on the number of holiday lights or switching to LED lights, which can use 90 per cent less energy than regular holiday lights. Get even more savings and convenience by putting your exterior lights or tree on a simple and inexpensive timer, allowing you to automatically control the length of time your lights are on.
- Lower the thermostat: Home temperatures will warm up naturally while cooking, and while hosting family and friends. Also, consider a programmable thermostat that will automatically lower the temperatures while you are away from the house for holiday events or travel plans.
- Consider travel choices: Much of the holiday season’s impact on the environment comes from travelling and fuel consumption. Take transit or walk to shopping destinations and avoid congested store parking lots. If you must drive, carpool and travel during off-peak times to limit idling.
- Give green: Consume less stuff and instead give more quality time by volunteering together or giving gifts of passes to local sites or events. Or, do your shopping at a local craft fair to find unique gifts made of up-cycled, natural materials; make your own special gift; or, give gifts that give back in energy savings, like LED nightlights, programmable thermostats or solar chargers for phones and tablets.
- Choose food that’s local and organic: Food that travels a long distance has a large carbon footprint and many of the staples of a holiday feast can be found locally. Consider shopping for your dinner at markets or stores that supply local and organic products.
- Decorate naturally: Deck the halls with non-toxic, long-lasting decorations made from wood, ceramics and felt. Plastic and single-use decorations can contain BPA- or PVC-laden plastics. An artificial tree cannot be composted and has three times more impact on climate change and resource depletion than a natural tree.
- Wrap creatively: Forgo the wrapping paper – wrap instead with this years’ calendar, newspaper comics or part of the gift itself, like clothes or dish towels. If you do buy wrapping paper, pick a kind that isn’t metallic or foil, as these cannot be recycled.
The City of Calgary has an environmental target to reduce corporate and community greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. For more information on ways to help save energy every day, visit calgary.ca/saveenergy.