Ways to Stay Green During Those Cold Month Blues
The cold months of the year are finally upon us. Halloween is over, Christmas decorations are crowding the sales floors, and in some places there have already been terrible snow storms. Those that live in the colder zones of the world may think that being green can only be a seasonal thing. Gardening outdoors is a bit difficult to do when it’s snowing, and those heating bills can go right through the roof. However, there are quite a few ways you can still be green through these harsh months.
Many people have 2 first instincts when it comes to dealing with cold temperatures inside the home: either turn up the thermostat or plug in that extra electric heater. Back away from that thermostat dial and put the plug down, and your heating or electric bill won’t suffer. If you are really that cold, throw on some extra layers of clothing or wrap yourself in a blanket to start. They’ll keep you toasty warm in no time, and you can even have yourself a nice hot cup of cocoa with it.After bundling yourself up, if you still feel a chill coming through the house check your doors and windows. Is there an air leak or draft coming through? If so, you can seal up those pesky window cracks and spaces, or employ the use of a draft snake for both your windows and doors. They are cute and creative and you can make them yourself, as well. Also, be sure that your house is properly insulated; and if you are going out, turn that thermostat down or off! There is no point in letting it run and having heat wasted on an empty house when no one will be there to enjoy it.
- Lights and Decorations
Another big thing during the cold months (and especially the holiday season) is the displaying of Christmas lights and decorations. Many towns have competitions for the best show, and many people incorporate animated decorations into their designs. While it’s never a bad idea to show off your holiday spirit, make sure you show off your green spirit, too. If you absolutely must have lights or other electrical decorations, don’t leave them plugged in or turned on all the time. You can get devices that will turn them on or off at timed intervals (say from 7 to 9 pm each night), or simply deal with the plugs manually. Bear in mind, you don’t need a big, flashy show to display season greetings or holiday cheer. There are a lot of decorations out there that are just as nice and don’t require tons of plugs or untangling that never ending string of lights every year. Plus, if you live out in the middle of nowhere (i.e., if your closest neighbors are a ½ mile or more away), unless you are expecting a lot of visitors, do not even bother with the electrical decorative show; no one but you will be around to enjoy them anyway.
- The Christmas Tree
Trees are good. They help the environment. We all know this. So, why do we cut them down to display in our homes, year after year, when—in most cases—they will be destroyed by New Years anyway? There are a couple different routes you can go with this one. The biggest one I’ll recommend is the use of artificial trees. They are easy to set up and take down; you can use them for many years; and you won’t have to live with the guilt of destroying those pine trees year after year. However, for those of you who want to go the traditional root, rather than cutting a tree down, try to keep the roots intact. By doing this, you can plant the tree outside once the holidays are over, and watch it grow!
- Those Holiday Specials
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching those seasonal specials every year. Ever since I was a kid, I looked forward to Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and The Grinch—among others. While this is certainly an enjoyable tradition, I say to you: turn that TV off! Those specials, as entertaining as they are, will be on again. Numerous channels will be showing them as reruns over the course of the next couple months, and if you miss any, there is always next year or the option of buying them on DVD. Instead of drowning your senses in the television, spend some time with your friends or family. Play some board games with them, go for a walk in the snow, or bake some cookies. Things are much more personable that way, and with very little impact on the environment.
- Shopping and Presents
Last but not least, the dread of Christmas shopping. People have already started shopping for decorations. Some folks in my town even have their lights up already. What’s worse, the madness of Black Friday is only a couple weeks away. If you have many people to shop for, try to get all of the shopping done as close to home as you can. Ordering items online will be even better; but make sure the items can be shipped to you in time (and be sure they come from local places, not global)! Traveling all over creation to find the perfect gift can be extremely stressful, both on you and nature. Do not feel obligated to get your best friend that outfit she wanted from Macy’s in NYC if you live clear down in Baltimore.
On the matter of presents, try to find recycled wrapping paper if you can. If not, you can always create your own wrapping technique at home, or wrap a gift inside of another gift (if possible). Also, if you can put more than one item into the same box, do that; it will save space, packaging and time. Most importantly, try to purchase green or eco-friendly products whenever you can! You can also make your own gifts, if you have an artistic flair and knack for such things.
I think that about covers it, for now. These tips should help you prepare for the holiday madness that is soon to come. Expect more of them as the winter months come and dredge on. I know I’ll need them and I’m sure you will too! Oh, and remember: living green is a 365 day thing. The environment, climate change and natural cycles of the world don’t take breaks, and neither should you.
By Heidi Marshall