This year, Malaysians will send at least 26 million holiday cards, use more than 5,000 miles of ribbon and leave millions of Christmas trees rotting on the curb. Does that mean you should feel guilty for having a great time? Nah! Neither does it mean forgoing any of the elements that make the holiday season special. "You don't have to sacrifice the celebration for sustainability," says Yasmin Rasyid founder and editor of EcoKnights.com. Her advice: be "eco-wise." Here are a few secrets for an environmentally friendlyâ€”but still festiveâ€” holiday season.
An estimated 1.7 billion Christmas cards are sent each year in Britain, the equivalent of 200,000 trees, and around 1 million Christmas cards are thrown away every year. Not many actually think of reusing or recycling these cards. So whatâ€™s the best way to reduce your impact on the environment? You can try to put on your creative hat and can make your own. After the big day, make sure your Christmas cards don't go to waste â€“ take them to a recycling point. Occasionally I like to buy recycled Christmas cards from charities and donate up to 20% to less fortunate people (or animals) at the same time. Plus, it does give you that â€śfeel goodâ€ť feeling. But this year, I am going paper-free. Direct friends to your family blog or create a free multi-photo card or an online slideshow on photobucket.com . You can add holiday music, snowflakes and bits of text, and then e-mail friends and family a link.Â My preferred choice would still be Facebook with all its fancy applications, Christmas cards are now a click away.
If you've been wondering which is better, the simple answer is that real trees are the more eco friendly choice. "Always go real," says Yasmin. "A fake tree is petroleum based. It's not biodegradable." Plus, real trees are carbon neutral, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as they grow as they will emit when burnt or left to decompose. They are also a naturally renewable resource, and generally feel much nicer in your home. They can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year.
Although artificial trees last for many years they are made from metal and derivatives of PVC, which requires large amounts of energy to make and also creates by-products such as lead which can be harmful to both the environment and human health. The average life of an artificial tree is just 6 years and given that they are not naturally biodegradable they will potentially pollute a landfill site for many years to come. Most artificial trees sold in the Malaysia are now made in Taiwan and China and so have additional energy costs associated with transport. One answer is to buy a potted or balled Christmas tree (roots still attached) so you can replant it in the backyard or donate it to someone who has enough garden space to plant a tree. Prefer a regular cut tree instead? Choose a real one or order from Ikea, a grower that ships to countries around the world and uses sustainable methods. Then recycle: many municipalities collect trees to mulch. Alternatively, you can chop the old tree in to smaller pieces and use it for composting.
Instead of coming home with 15 shopping bags, bring your own to the store. Afraid of being stopped for shoplifting? Try this! Fasten receipts to the outside of his bag with a binder clip. You can also opt to carpool to the shopping malls with friends and loved ones rather than drive alone. You can share on fuel, toll payments and at the same time, have great company!
Choose LEDs (light-emitting diodes) instead of incandescent bulbs to
decorate your tree and home. They're more expensive, but last much
longer and use 80% to 90% less power than conventional mini bulbs.
LEDs, which cast a bright white light, also stay cool to the touch so
they won't singe the treeâ€”or your child's fingers. LED lights also last
up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts
per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than
traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500
traditional holiday lights will cost you about say RM50.00 while the
same number of LED lights costs only RM5.00. As an added bonus, if one
of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit. And
invest in timers that automatically shut off your lights and cost as
little as RM9.99. It's simply a waste of energy to leave the holiday
lights on at night after everyone's gone to sleep.
And just food for thought - Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 12 balloons - so make sure you get energy saving light bulbs for your house, and during Christmas, try solar powered rope lights or these outdoor solar powered fairy lights for some winter sparkle without adding to your carbon footprint.
|For LED lights, check out this sites: http://www.christmaslightsetc.com/led-christmas-lights.htmÂ||For solar powered lights, try this link http://greatgreengadgets.com/gadgets/2007/11/24/solar-powered-christmas-lights/|