Stay sustainable during the holiday season


Hunter Berube

Suffolk Climate Watch graphic

As the month of December begins, the holiday season brings forth an increase in the world’s carbon footprint. With excess energy, greenhouse gasses, shipping and wrapping paper being used in surplus amounts, there are ways to be mindful of our carbon footprint.

In 2018, an estimated 112.5 million Americans traveled by car, plane and train during the holiday season, according to AAA. About 100 million traveled by car, releasing a dangerous amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, according to AAA.

“If we act sustainably year-round, the environmental impact of the holidays might not seem as dire,” said Lori Mitchener, an adjunct professor in the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability at Suffolk University. 

 In an effort to reduce global warming, researchers advise taking public transportation such as buses or trains over short flights, according to Popular Mechanics. Carpooling is another possibility, as it reduces the amount of vehicles on the road, thus producing less greenhouse gases. 

Keeping anything off when it’s not in use is another simple way to save energy. According to The Canton Repository, space heaters, running water and thermostats are three main sources of energy that can be conserved. Space heaters use 1,500 watts of energy per hour and are often on unnecessarily. Keeping a furnace thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower when you’re not home can save five to 15% on yearly energy bills.

Holiday lights are one of the leading sources of an increasing carbon footprint during this time. According to Energy Saving Trust, more than 15,000 hot air balloons could be powered due to the strict amount of carbon dioxide produced from Christmas lights. For anyone looking to be festive and environmentally friendly, low-energy LED lights are an option. 

“Sometimes making small changes can make a big difference in the amount of energy you use,” Rich Cosgrove wrote in The Canton Repository.