By MaryKathryn McCann ’18 (Molecular Biology and Environmental Economics Double Major from Chester, NJ)
The holiday season is known for quality time spent with family and friends, but the holiday season also is a time for excess. This excess applies to food, travel, as well as waste. Even someone conscious of their ecological footprint can have a difficult time sticking to sustainable practices during this time of year. To start your sustainable holiday season, here are a few tips to get started.
1. When shipping gifts to school or home remember to check the method of shipping. The most ecofriendly way to ship a package is ground shipping only. Overnight or two-day shipping normally requires an airplane, which increases the amount of greenhouse gases emitted with the plane’s high gasoline usage. So to fight the last-minute overnight air shipping, plan and order gifts ahead of time.
2. If you hang up lights during the holiday season, try to use and purchase only LED string lights. Not only do the colors and light look brighter, LED lights use 50 percent less energy and lasts 13 times longer than other string lights.
3. Many students at Colgate aren’t able to drive back home for breaks and many students will be flying home this holiday season. If flying is a must for holiday travel, find the itinerary that includes a nonstop flight or the smallest number of segments possible. The more stops in your flight plans the more gas is consumed. A plane uses most of its gasoline in the take off and landing portions of the trip than while actually in the air. So, if you cannot get a direct flight home from Syracuse, try taking a bus or carpool to New York City or Boston and catching a flight out of JFK or Logan International.
4. The holiday season is very connected with food, and a lot of it. Holiday parties and meals are full of food that won’t be finished or eaten at all. Instead of throwing out all the food, see if your local soup kitchen or food pantry will take any of the unused food. If they will not take your food, make leftovers such as soup, pot pies, or just have the meal again over the next few days.
Remember these tips while making plans and celebrating over the holidays to make it more sustainable. Even in this time of excess, we can still take steps and make preparations for a more sustainable holiday and future. For more tips, see aashe.org.