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UofL Green Scene: Green holidays save money, resources, environment

by Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability last modified Nov 23, 2010 11:48 AM

(Editor's Note: Green Scene is a monthly column on sustainable activities written by the faculty, staff or students responsible for them.)

UofL Green Scene: Green holidays save money, resources, environment

Have holidays with the Earth in mind.

We all know the holidays can be hard on our wallets, but they can also be hard on the planet. This year, consider ways to make the season memorable while saving money, resources, and the environment.

Energy:

Save money and energy this holiday season while helping keep the planet cool:

  • When you leave for the holidays, turn down thermostats and unplug chargers, printers and non-essential equipment. Always turn off lights and power-down equipment when vacating a room.
  • Choose more efficient LED holiday lighting and switch off holiday lights when you go to bed.
  • Skip the hassle of driving those crowded, slippery roads this holiday season by taking the bus!
  • Cold? Donning an extra sweater or thermal underwear is more cozy and energy-efficient than cranking up the thermostat.
  • Got snow? Use a shovel instead of a snow blower or salt! Get some exercise while saving energy and preventing corrosion and damage to plants, wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.

Gifts:

  • Instead of a gadget they might not like anyway, consider low-impact non-material gifts that keep on giving this year:
  1. Gift memberships to a fitness club or yoga studio;
  2. Tickets to a local performing arts company;
  3. Gift subscriptions to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which provides a weekly basket of food from a local farm. Grasshoppers even offers a winter CSA share.
  4. Registration for skill-building classes (e.g. UofL's Lifelong Learning classes);
  5. Give the gift of energy savings with a home energy audit! For just $25, LG&E customers can request home energy audits loaded with information and energy-saving products customized to each home. There are numerous tax incentives to help fund energy efficiency retrofits and replacements for homeowners.
  6. Give the gift of renewable energy. For just $5/month, LG&E and KU customers can sign up for green energy (in 300kWh blocks). Or make your own power at home! The federal government will cover 30 percent of the costs for installing residential renewable energy systems.
  • When shopping for material gifts, support your local economy by avoiding chain stores and look for locally-made or fair trade products (like those available at Just Creations).
  • Look for toys powered by fun rather than electricity! If your gift requires batteries, give rechargeable batteries and a charger.
  • No matter what you choose, avoid that mountain of trash by using reusable gift bags or recycled wrapping.

Food:

What you choose to put on your holiday table has a huge impact on the environment, health, and the local economy. Some things you can do:

  • Seek healthier, fresher options. Avoid processed, excessively-packaged and individually wrapped foods.
  • Serve less meat and animal products, as these generally require 10 times the resources to produce, are often high in fat and cholesterol and typically involve animal suffering.
  • Strive to purchase as much local, seasonal food as possible — the Bardstown Road farmers' market is year-round on Saturday mornings. Look for Kentucky Proud items at the grocery store and if you can't find them, ask the manager to stock local items.
  • Instead of serving drinks in individual cans or bottles, use pitchers and glasses. Serve award-winning Louisville tap water instead of bottled water.
  • Plan for waste-free meals.
  • Eating in moderation will help keep you and your environmental footprint lighter.
  • Give Uncle Bob something to do in the kitchen (the dishes) — avoid disposable plates and dinnerware.
  • Don't send those food scraps to the landfill! Compost them to make your own organic fertilizer.
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