Friday, December 20, 2013

A Sustainable Christmas

Sustainable ChristmasH860 by Artist David Price
A Forest of Sustainably Grown Trees: When buying paper, look for paper products with 100% Post-Consumer Waste (PCW) or paper from sustainably-managed forests. Use soy or vegetable inks – they require less processing and often last longer. At work, try printing your documents double-sided or set your print margins at ¾” or less. If everyone did, it would save about 6 billion trees a year.
2 Reusable Bags: The average person uses 150 plastic shopping bags a year, but only recycles 5! If everyone went reusable for a year, that would save the same amount of petroleum as taking 100,000 cars off the road!
3 Dialed Down Temps: Washing everything in cold water saves the average house 1200+ lbs of carbon dioxide a year. Each degree turned down on a thermostat saves about 2% in energy cost and consumption annually, and turning your water heater down to 130 degrees saves the average household 5%!
4 Crammed Carpoolers: Try packing your car full of passengers and lower everyone’s carbon footprint in one fell swoop! Cutting miles that you travel alone is far more effective at reducing energy-use than getting better gas-mileage.
5 Green Rings: Recycle, recycle, recycle! All major cities have recycling service now, yet only 24% of recyclable material gets recycled! Just recycling your daily newspaper saves about a tree a year.
6 Short Showers: Showers account for 2/3 of all water used at home, averaging 2.5 gallons per minute. Cut just 2 or 3 minutes out of your shower time and consume 10-15% less water every month! Even better, low-flow shower heads can double your savings.
7 Gardens Growing: Grow your own and they will be tastier and better for the environment! Strawberries, for example, are easy to grow at home, but when grown commercially require exorbitant amounts of pesticides and fertilizer for a relatively low yield. Try growing them yourself in a pot!
8 Taps a-Filling: The average American uses over 160 water bottles (a petroleum product) per year, and only about a quarter of these are recycled. Cut down on waste by refilling water bottles and reusing them. Tap water in most urban areas is cleaner than bottled anyway! (Seriously! Look it up!)
9 Unplugged Electronics: About 5% of total energy consumed in the average household each day is from “standby” electronics. Save money and the environment - put electronics on a power strip and turn it off when not in use!
10 Local Veggies: Buy local whenever possible, particularly for meat and veggies. Food travels an average of 1500 miles from where it’s grown to where you buy it, even organics, and often requires additional energy for refrigeration along the way. In addition, transported foods require more processing and packaging – which takes energy and creates waste. Support a local farmer and do something good for the environment; visit a farmers market near you!
11 Riders Riding: Passenger cars create about 25% of all greenhouse gases, 80% of which comes from commuting to and from work. Using public transit, carpooling, riding a bike, or telecommuting can cut your energy consumption in half or more!
12 Items Swapping: Consuming fewer new goods and reusing more is one of the most effective ways to be sustainable! Try sites like,,,, or Or, start a swap in your own neighborhood!
Sources: Natural Resource defense council,,,