Practicing Sustainability Even When It’s Cold Outside

There’s a chill in the air. You’re reaching for your chunky sweaters and heavy coats. Mittens and hats, scarves, and gloves are strewn everywhere. 

It’s winter!

While colder temperatures tempt us to crank up the heat and snuggle before the fire, it’s also a time of a lot of waste. It’s still possible to enjoy winter, have fun, and stay cozy while making a few adjustments toward sustainable practices. Here’s how.

Rethink your holiday decorations

Many of us keep a box of reusable holiday decor that comes out when the time is right. While it’s very sustainable to buy once and use it over and over, once you throw out your artificial decorations, you’re making a lot of waste.

A potential tradeoff is to get some live greenery. Pine and fir decorations may have extra ribbon and wire in them, but you can easily separate the trash from the plant parts when the holidays are over. Recycle what you can from the trash and compost the branches and leaves.

While we’re talking about live decor, you should also think about extending that sentiment to your tree. A live tree may be a little more work to care for, but you can recycle it at the end of the season. If you get a potted tree to decorate, you can even replant it on your own property once you take off the decorations.

To show off your live decor, don’t forget about your holiday lights. By using LED lights and putting your lights on a timer, you’re doing your part to beautify your home in a sustainable way, one where you’re not wasting any electricity. After all, nobody is looking at your holiday lights during the day.

The paper waste of the holidays

Another area where sustainable practices can help decrease waste as you celebrate is wrapping paper. In the United States, four million tons of the waste generated over Christmas is wrapping paper and shopping bags. Cut back with alternative gift wrap options such as:

  • Baskets
  • Jars
  • Newspaper
  • Scarves
  • Reusable gift bags 

You may even be able to wrap one gift with another gift to really make a sustainable presentation.

Set and keep in the heat

When we’re at home, we like to feel the heat. Most thermostats are set at between 67-70 degrees in the winter, and that’s totally fine. The trick is to remember to adjust your thermostat when you’re asleep or not at home. 

Under all those covers at night, you can easily knock your thermostat down a few degrees, and when you’re not home, you can lower it even further, down 10-15 degrees. Yes, your home will need a little time to warm up when you get back, but the energy (and money) you’ll save is well worth it.

You should also make sure your home is heating itself efficiently, so the heater won’t have to work as hard to reach your ideal temperature. To do this, check doors and windows for gaps where air can escape. If you find any, make sure to fill them in with weather stripping or caulk.

Travel responsibly

There are so many group gatherings during the holidays, but don’t let the celebrations distract you from thinking sustainably. Carpool when you can to your special events with family, neighbors, or friends. If a few of you live close by to each other, plan to meet at a central spot and then pile into one car to go to the party.

If public transportation is an option, you can opt for that instead of driving your own car as well. Going this route will also allow you to enjoy the holidays as much as you want without having to worry about driving home safely. 

Who else is practicing sustainability?

This winter, it’s not just individuals who can make a difference by practicing sustainability, but businesses as well. Where you shop will support these sustainable efforts, so it’s good to know what companies share your outlook on the environment. 

At IMPACT COLLECTIVE, our partners all turn a significant amount of their attention toward sustainable practices that carry on all year. From offsetting to smart packaging choices, recycling to better manufacturing processes, each partner makes a real investment toward sustainability. We invite you to learn more about our partners and the work we do.

All of us at IMPACT hope you have a safe and fun winter, and leave a little time to think about what you can do to make our planet a better place.