Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season!

By: LOUIS SPANIAS, Sustainability Program Manager

I think we can all agree that the holiday season is one of the most exciting and enjoyable parts of the year. The semester draws to a close: classes are over, finals are done, and so we can return to our families and friends at home to rest (and of course, eat), even if just for a little while.

While I encourage you all to relax, I ask that you will remember that even during the holidays, one can still be mindful about the environment! The holiday season can be a highly wasteful one: from the wrapping and packaging of gifts to the use of large amounts of heat and energy, we tend to use and waste a little more than we realize. In the spirit of this month’s theme at the Hixon Center, energy, I would like to offer you a few tips and reminders about how you can still go green before you leave for the semester and while you’re on your break:

Before You Leave…

  • Turn off and unplug unused lights and appliances – In a quick hurry to head home, one might forget turning that last light off or to unplug items that won’t be in use over the holiday break. This is especially true for faculty and staff who will be leaving their offices during winter closure. Please remember to turn everything off before you leave, and to unplug any and all electrical appliances.
  • Close your windows – This will not only prevent pests and other critters seeking warmth from entering your room or office space, but it also keeps heat, and prevents heating systems from automatically activating as the temperature gets cooler.
  • Properly sort your recycling and waste – It happens every semester – we throw away all of our no-longer-needed papers into the garbage bin! Take the time to recycle any and all papers, bottles, cans, and other materials into blue recycling bins!

While You’re Away…

  • Layers Before Heating – Some of us will return to particularly cold regions of the country and the world where we simply can’t avoid turning the heat on, but before you turn to heat energy, add layers! Coats, blankets, and warm socks and gloves oftentimes do the trick, save energy, and will keep your energy bill down this winter!
  • Use Reusable Bags instead of Wrapping! – There’s certainly nothing like the feeling of unwrapping gifts for the holiday season, but there’s also no quicker way to produce waste than to individually wrap your gifts! Consider using reusable bags or boxes to encase gifts that recipients can then use in the future!
  • Buy Local – Lots of energy and emissions are produced from transportation and distribution around the holidays, whether that be for food or other products. And economically, most buyers will go to the large department stores. Reduce emissions and energy use, and simultaneously help boost your local economy, by purchasing food and gifts from local businesses and restaurants this winter.

For other useful tips on how to live sustainability this holiday season, the U.S. EPA has a wonderful page with various tips and resources that you can refer to!

From all of us here at the Hixon Center, we wish you the best of luck on Finals, and hope you all have a safe and enjoyable winter holiday. See you in 2017!