For many green business owners, the winter holiday season is the busiest and most profitable time of year. Developing beautiful holiday displays with traditional lights and other decorations is an important way to attract customers to your business, but as a green business owner, you may be concerned about the environmental costs of such displays.
Here are some tips to reduce the environmental impact of your holiday decorations:
Use LED Christmas Lights
Beautiful light displays are a tradition during the holidays, but the cost to the environment – not to mention the pocketbooks of business and home owners – can be considerable. Fortunately, energy and money-saving LED Christmas lights were introduced in 2001 and are growing in popularity around the country.
LED Christmas lights are 90% more efficient than traditional incandescent holiday lights. According to one study by the US Department of Energy, if everyone replaced conventional incandescent holiday light strings with LEDs, two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a single month. That’s enough to power 200,000 homes for a full year!
LED lights have other benefits as well. They produce little heat, reducing fire risk, and can last up to 200,000 hours! LED blubs are typically made of sturdy plastic, making them durable and weatherproof. Finally, LED lights are vibrant and are now available in a range of colors, shapes, and patterns that is comparable to incandescent lights. There are even color-changing LED lights! LED lights are now being used by everyone from individual homeowners to the Rockefeller Center’s famous Christmas tree, which is ornamented with more than 30,000 LED lights annually.
Switch to Beeswax Candles
Whether you’re setting up a Hanukkah display or creating a romantic holiday ambiance for diners at your gourmet organic restaurant, beeswax candles are an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional paraffin-based candles. Paraffin wax is a petroleum-based product that releases petro-carbon soot when it is burned. The soot contains a number of known or suspected carcinogens and can blacken walls and ceilings over time.
Beeswax candles, on the other hand, are naturally soot-free and non-toxic. They do not drip or smoke and typically last about four times longer than paraffin candles. Purchasing beeswax candles also supports beekeepers, who in turn care for one of the world’s most important pollinators. The small but energetic honeybee is the primary or only pollinator for up to 1/3 of human food crops, and many other species of wildflowers, shrbs, trees, and other plants. Unfortunately, honeybee numbers are in decline due to a mysterious malady known as Colony Collapse Disorder. By supporting the work of beekeepers, you are helping to save these irreplaceable yet increasingly endangered insects.
Try Organic Christmas Trees and Greens
Although it is sometimes argued that fake trees are the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree option because they are reusable, the majority of fake Christmas trees are made of polyvinyl chloride, a petroleum based product that is consider unusually bad for the environment even by the standards of other petroleum-based products. Even worse, many contain lead, which can contaminate dust and damage indoor air quality.
However, many real Christmas trees are sprayed with pesticides, fed with fertilizers, and raised in other artificial and unsustainable ways. In addition to the environmental effects of chemical-intensive agriculture, residues from spraying can linger on the tree’s needles and branches, causing harm to chemical-sensitive customers.
The safest and most eco-friendly option for Christmas trees is a certified organic Christmas tree. A growing number of farms around the country are going organic, so in many cases there will even be local options. Another green alternative to chemically treated real trees is a tree cut from a nature preserve. Although it may not sound eco-friendly at first, some environmental organizations working to preserve or restore local ecosystems offer free or low cost Christmas trees cut from their preserves in an attempt to control non-native or invasive species.
These tips can help your green business stay true to its environmental principles even during the holiday season!