As the holidays approach and excitement brews in your office, people often wonder how much waste is produced during the season? Thinking of the energy required to power all of those twinkling lights, the paper gone to waste as it’s ripped off gift packages, and all the food thrown in the trash when there are others who don’t have the money to even eat a holiday dinner…well, it may weigh on you.
However, understanding the environmental impact of the season doesn’t mean you can’t be jolly. It just means shifting some of your current practices to something still joyful and not nearly as bad for the environment.
Here are ways your business can go green for the holidays:
It’s better to buy a real, local Christmas tree than a reusable, plastic one.
This may come as a surprise. Cutting down Christmas trees really isn’t that bad for the environment in comparison to purchasing toxic, plastic, shipped artificial trees. As long as you’re acquiring your Christmas tree from a local farm, you’re really not doing too much harm. This is because you’re not stealing a tree away from its natural habitat, and damaging that ecosystem in the process. Christmas trees grown on a local farm are raised specifically for use as festive, holiday trees.
Make sure you actually recycle or compost your tree.
One of the arguments made regarding the use of real Christmas trees is that they are wasteful due to their short lifespan whereas artificial trees last much longer. The primary problem with artificial trees is that while they are reusable, they contain non-recyclable plastics that harbor potential toxins, like lead, that might never fully biodegrade. The use of a real tree doesn’t need to be wasteful because when you’re done with it, you can recycle or compost it… simply using it for a new purpose.
Recycle wrapping paper (and see if you can find an already-recycled variety too).
Now, moving on the the gifts that will be found under the tree or handed out to your employees. Using standard wrapping paper that ends up in the trash is counterintuitive to your efforts to being more sustainable. Instead, look for recycled paper varieties so you’re not starting with a newly manufactured item, and instead are reusing something already created and used. And if the paper allows, recycle it too! You can recycle most varieties of wrapping paper as long as it doesn’t contain foil or glitter.
Switch holiday lights to greener, more energy-efficient bulbs, like CFL or LED.
An aspect of the holidays almost everyone looks forward to is the cheery lights. Whether it’s string lights wrapped around your Christmas tree, bulbs adorning employees’ desks, or mini-lanterns lighting up the exterior of your building, lights bring joy to passerbys, customers, employees, and likely you as well! Now, not to rain on your parade, but think about how much power it takes to keep those lights on. While we’ll get into even better solutions than regular power sources, first you need to change out those bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs primarily create a lot of heat, and very little light, with about 90% of the energy generated used simply for heat. CFL and LED lights are more eco-friendly alternatives because they use the power they receive much more efficiently!
Look to alternative energy to power holiday lights.
Standard electricity negatively impacts the environment because of the greenhouse gases and emissions released into the air during the process of burning fossil fuels, and the radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants. Emissions such as CO2, CO, SO2, NOx, and PM can be harmful to the environment, animals and humans themselves, impacting our respiratory systems and contributing to other diseases. Look into ways to collect solar energy, so you have an all-natural power source that either reduces the amount of electricity you use or fully powers your holiday lights.
Choose gifts for employees wisely – get them something they’ll actually use.
A gift has no meaning or value if it doesn’t resonate with the recipient. If you’re not giving your employees thoughtful gifts, it’s very possible that present will end up in the trash. Look at other gifts you can give your employees that they’ll appreciate and won’t toss – such as a holiday bonus or extra paid time off.
Reduce waste by donating items like food.
Take a look at your local nonprofit organizations and see what they are looking for and accepting at this time of year. For example, some organizations will accept food leftover when a restaurant closes for the day, like donuts in a bakery. Consider the items your business frequently throws out, and if you can’t recycle them, explore the idea of letting someone else use them.
Source linens, uniforms, towels, and other business needs from a sustainable provider.
Your company go green initiative doesn’t need to end once the holidays are over. You know the importance of aesthetics and cleanliness in attracting customers. What if you could get high quality linen, uniforms, and towels, always laundered fresh for you, handled by a professional company that uses sustainable practices?
At Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply, we have received certifications, awards, and other recognition for our go green laundry practices. With our Clean Green Certification, Green Powerhouse Award, U.S. EPS Sustainability Partnership, and more, you’re assured of receiving quality linens without compromising your environmental values.