You’ve found your way to the Sustainability in Style ‘Tis the Season’ section of our ‘Take Action’ collection. This collection of posts and it’s home page are loaded with ideas on how you can take action this holiday season to reduce your negative impact on people and planet.
From reducing your food waste, to shopping for gifts in mindful ways, these tips should help inspire you to live life in Sustainable Style during the festive season (minus the overwhelm).
Some of the resources on this page date back to the beginnings of Sustainability in Style’s online journey as a personal blog. We acknowledge that ‘Christmas’ is commonly used in older posts due to our geographical locations (Australia) recognition of this holiday time. However, the term ‘holiday’ is now used as the season of celebration expands to be inclusive of other cultural and religious beliefs.
You’ve found your way to the action-based section of Sustainability in Style. The place and space that shares previous action adventures conducted in Sustainable Style.
Whatever it is that you value, we invite you to explore, connect, and tread a little lighter on our planet holiday season.
Celebrate this season with big love.
CHRISTMAS MADE MOBILE
BUSES, TRAINS, AND TRAMS
Everyone’s circumstances are different but for some of us there are options when it comes to modes of travel. If you have access to public transport you can utilise it for the holiday season. My local council offers a free bus service over the holiday season. Public transport not only cuts cost on fuel, it decreases traffic congestion, reduces stress levels, is a way to meet new people, has wonderful air-conditioning (an important factor in the sub tropics) and is a great way to move around if you have drunk in a little too much ‘festive cheer’. Shifting from using your personal vehicle to public transport can reduce carbon emissions by 65 percent during peak travel times like Christmas, and 95 percent during off peak times.
NO PUBLIC TRANSPORT BUT THE PARTY IS NEARBY?
If you don’t have access to public transport service in your area (or perhaps they close down over the holidays), but you live close to your destination, you could opt for a Christmas family bike ride. It would be great fun to arrive at your Christmas Party host’s house on push bikes. You could even go a step further with your Christmas cheer and decorate your bike and helmet for the occasion. If you were planning to ride home after dark, you could decorate your bike with some Christmas solar lights. If your destination is within walking distance, this is always the best option because it’s easy, you can have a couple of drinks, drink bike-riding is illegal, and requires no fancy equipment other than legs and shoes. If you have the fancy equipment handy, you could skate, skip, hop, roll, or pogo your way there. The best part about walking, riding or rolling, to your party is that after you have ‘fed-up’ on festive feasts, your journey home will aid in digestion.
For some, none of the above options will be a possibility. That’s perfectly ok. However, as long as we are on the topic, have you contemplated moving to a location that will allow you to catch public transport, walk, or ride to most locations? This may sound a little extreme, but if you have a move planned in the not-so-distant future, you could look for a location that allows you these alternatives. Before making the move interstate, I spent a great deal of time (making spreadsheets, yes I am a nerd) analysing the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly place to live by researching public transport options to both work and University, the distance to shops, beaches, airports, and night life.
More than a decade later and I have lived in two rental houses in the same area and bought a home earlier this year. All of these houses I have lived in are within walking distance from each other. I rarely use my car at all, with my estimated spend on fuel per annum at $300AUD. The monetary savings, health benefits, and environmental kudos of living this kind of lifestyle well and truly outweigh the inconvenience of doing the pre-move-planning stages. In the meantime, if you are using your car, you can consider the following factors before heading out for your Christmas road trips.
As Christmas is traditionally a time for sharing and caring, what better time than now to share your ride with someone else! Carpooling with family and friends is a great way to save carbon emissions and make memories. A study by the UN showed at Europeans who carpooled from 2008 to 2011 saved over 630,000 tonnes in carbon emissions, 324 million liters of gas, and 750 million Euros. Get your favourite Christmas tunes cranking and ask Mum, Dad, and Aunt Mildred to be your backup singers and passengers. Keep in mind that if one of you has a car with high fuel efficiency, hybrid fuel technology, electric, or biofuel, options, then that would be the car to use for your carpool. If no-one has a car, try a ride-share service and split the bill.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR EFFICIENCY
Regardless if you are car-pooling or driving solo, aim for optimal fuel efficiency. If you are getting the best mileage from your car, then you are not only saving money in the long run, you are getting more distance for your dollar.
To get the best fuel efficiency, the ABC Carbon Cops offer the following suggestions:
- Keep tyres inflated correctly. This reduces their surface contact with the road, which reduces the drag on your car from friction with the ground.
- Remove roof racks and other items that increase the air resistance of your car when they’re not in use.
- Drive steadily, not aggressively
- Stay under the speed limit – at high speeds, an extra 5 km/h can drop fuel efficiency.
- Drive the first few minutes with your window down so that hot air escapes your car. This means the air conditioner works less hard to cool the air inside.
- Drive in the most efficient gear, not too high or too low
- Keep the weight down – don’t carry lots of things you don’t need in your car. Heavy cars need more fuel to go the same distance as light cars.
IF NONE OF THESE OPTIONS ARE POSSIBLE
Have one less serving of roast dinner and pass on the double whipped cream. Believe it or not, the production of meat and dairy creates more (and more dangerous) GHG emissions than the transport industry.
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat your meat, it just means you should consider eating less. If the roast is cooked and on the table don’t let the beast go to waste do it justice and devour every last morsel. But keep in mind the ecological footprint that goes with your consumption and consider taking on a few veggie protein meals a week in place of your meat protein. If this is something you would like to look into I personally recommend the ‘The Truth About Meat‘ as a non-preachy or emotive look at meat consumption as you won’t feel guilted about your decision at the end of it if you do decide to continue eating meat protein.
If you are flying for your holiday season, emissions are unavoidable.
However, there are a few things you can do to make your journey a little more ‘eco’:
- Check for direct flights (if you can afford them) as they will result in fewer emissions. A tip for getting direct flights at a reasonable price is to wait for airline sale periods.
- Consider how you plan to get to the airport. Use the tips above to find the best option for you. Again, careful contemplation can help with this. Usually, suburbs near airports are cheaper to live in (they can be a bit noisy) and have access to public transport. If you fly regularly and are considering moving house, perhaps you could shack up near the airport. When your plane lands it’s a short walk or bus ride home!
- Pack wisely. Put some useful items in your carry on. I always try to bring an empty water bottle on to avoid wastage with plastic bottles. Some airlines won’t be ok with this. Check their websites to see. Even if you can’t take most of your eco utensils on board, you can check them in for the other end. You might pack drawstring cotton bags, a fold-up carry bag with handles, a water bottle, reusable coffee cup, folding bowl or plate, and a reusable straw. Then you are set!
- Ask questions. You might annoy the cabin crew with your packaging questions, but it’s always good to ask how the food they serve will be packaged. Aim for a mid-flight snack or meal with the least amount of packaging. If they don’t have recycling on the plane, you and you can take the wrappers with you on landing and to make sure your recyclables don’t end up in landfill.
- On landing, buy local. Supporting the local economy and culture is the best way to ‘give back’ to the places you are visiting. Step away from the McDonalds burger and head to a local cafe instead!
- And finally, buy Carbon offsets if offered.
If you like this post you might also like to check out:
SKY HIGHAIR TRAVEL
TAKE THE HOLIDAY CHALLENGE
KISS ECO-OVERWHELM GOODBYE
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