Happy holidays to all! In this edition of the Free for All, I focus on sustainable holiday celebration tips. From Christmas tree carbon calculators, to waste calculators, to smart celebration ideas, I’ll give you the information you need to party more sustainably.
To start here is a carbon footprint calculator dedicated completely to Christmas tree decorations. The Omni Calculator website offers 929 free calculators, ranging from basics such as BMI (body mass index) or metric conversions, to more complex calculators such as those for vapor pressure, entropy and gravitational force. Their Christmas Tree Footprint Calculator is quite unique, as it offers the option of either building a tree (out of alternative materials) or purchasing one.
If you choose to buy a tree, you can choose between natural or plastic, including the size, as well as how you plan to pick up the tree (i.e. mode of transportation and even the type of engine your car has). Last, they ask how your tree will be processed after disposal. From there, Omni provides an approximate footprint (kg of CO2 emissions), and then instantly recommends that you build your own tree in the future. Ever heard of building your own tree? Neither had I. So not only is this a carbon calculator, it’s also an educational tool to find sustainable options for the future. The calculator accounts for trees built with PVC pipes, cans, books, cardboard, succulents and even homemade floating trees (tutorial included).
Unfortunately, the bulk of the holiday carbon footprint is associated with travel. According to the New York Times, approximately 2-3 tons of CO2 is emitted per person per flight on a round trip from JFK to SFO, and on average a person emits about 19 tons per year. For most, we are unable to control how we travel, so here are a few tips on how you can reduce your holiday footprint in other ways.
For a basic guide on where to put your holiday waste, check out this document provided by Kitsap County recycling and garbage news site. Exact waste amounts can be converted into a carbon footprint using this tool; energy consumed by holiday lights can be calculated here; and there’s even a site to calculate how much food to cook to avoid creating waste.
Besides websites and apps, there are also practical ways to reduce your impact on the environment during the holidays. For example, recycle gift wrap and/or your Christmas tree; use a tree that can be replanted; giving fewer but more thoughtful gifts; use holiday LED lights and turn them off during the day; send electronic Christmas cards; gift experiences instead of material items; buy local gifts and food; carpool or use as much public transportation as possible; and purchase carbon offsets for holiday travel. We hope that you have/had a fantastic and sustainable holiday break – see you next month!
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