Dreaming of a white Christmas? How about a green one? And a New Year’s resolution to be as sustainable as we can in 2021?
This year we’ve made huge changes to meet the Covid-19 challenge – seismic shifts in the way we live and work. And despite all the difficulties this year, some positive lifestyle changes look here to stay.
Now as we rethink Christmas in the coronavirus age, it’s a great chance to take another step toward our net zero goals. By tweaking our behaviour over Christmas, we can cut carbon and business costs. Small changes we make together could snowball into big cuts in carbon over the years.
So here are some practical tips for a greener Christmas – and a more sustainable new year.
Your workplace may be quieter than usual as people work remotely, especially around Christmas. So make sure you heat only the areas of your business you’re using.
If no one’s there during the holiday period, turn the heating down until it’s just high enough to prevent frost.
At home, keep cosy and warm, but don’t overdo the heat. Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, typically between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius.
By turning your thermostat down by one degree, you could save around £60 on your heating bill over a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.1 That’s 310kg of carbon dioxide – a great reason to get the Christmas jumper on.
For Christmas lights at home and work, LEDs can be a great saving. LEDs use up to 90% less electricity than traditional bulbs, according to Which? So why not upgrade all your light bulbs to LEDs, if you haven’t done so already?
And don’t forget to turn them off to save electricity when they’re not in use. Consider using a time switch for lights at work. At home, switch off any lights you have inside or outside before going to bed.
Closing your business for Christmas? Turn off and unplug all non-essential lights and electrical appliances.
If you’re buying a Christmas tree for work or home this year, consider getting a real one. A real tree has a much lower carbon footprint than an artificial one, according to the Carbon Trust. That’s if you dispose of it properly: take it to your local tip for recycling.
If you have an artificial tree, keep using it as long as you can to reduce its environmental impact.
Christmas decorations are a major source of plastic waste. So look for reusable decorations made from recycled paper, wood, fabric or glass instead.
Or try making your own. Fallen pine cones, evergreen sprigs or other winter foliage make a change from traditional baubles and tinsel and can be fun for the kids, too.
Do you send dozens of Christmas cards to customers each year? Sending e-cards instead cuts carbon and costs.
You can always make your own cards for friends and family. Reuse any sustainable materials you have at home – more festive fun for the kids.
If you buy Christmas cards, avoid glitter or other materials you can’t recycle.
Christmas is about giving, but we don’t need to give away the earth. Try buying fewer presents.
Secret Santa is good for the workplace and at home. It’s a fun way to involve your employees or family members and keeps the number of presents down.
Consider buying refurbished or second-hand goods from charity shops. You’ll save money, produce less carbon and help the charity.
Whatever you buy, think about the environmental impact of each gift. Avoid things you think might be thrown away quickly.
To wrap your presents, use any wrapping paper left over from last year, and buy gift bags or stockings to reuse year after year.
Choose your materials carefully. Decorative ribbons, metallic paper and glitter can’t be recycled. And sticky tape will make any wrapping paper non-recyclable, so consider using biodegradable string.
Have you cancelled your workplace Christmas party this year? Maybe you’re getting together online instead. How about donating any funds you might save to a local food bank or homeless charity? SSE is donating £150,000 to local charities in our UK and Ireland areas of operation to help people who might be facing a difficult Christmas.
One of the great pleasures of Christmas, food accounts for around 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a WWF study.
So don’t overdo the festive food shop this year: buy only what you think your household will eat. Reduce food waste by making full use of leftovers, freezing what you can, if necessary.
And whether roasting a turkey or other festive goodies, don’t preheat the oven too long or leave it on when the meal’s ready. You can always leave dishes covered in a switched-off oven to keep food warm.
Going away for Christmas? The pandemic is far from over, and transport remains the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, according to the latest UK government figures. So there’s never been a better year to spend Christmas at home.
If you’re visiting friends and family, as the government guidance for Christmas allows, consider walking or going by bike if your journey’s short.
With light at the end of the Covid tunnel, we’re hoping for a safer new year and a green recovery.
At SSE, we’re proud to be a Principal Partner at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 to be hosted in Glasgow next year – another milestone on our net zero journey.
Whatever’s decided at COP26, get ahead with some green New Year’s resolutions for your business. Our energy efficiency guidance is a good place to start, or our energy saving guide for small businesses. You might be surprised how much you could save with little or no cost.
By installing smart meters, you can gain valuable insight into where you can reduce your energy costs, especially when combined with a data management app like Clarity – free for SSE Business Energy customers.
And renewable energy, like our SSE Green range, is a great way to cut carbon and display your green credentials.
Wishing you all a merry, greener Christmas and a happy, more sustainable new year.
1 Typical savings for a typical three-bedroom semi-detached home heated by gas. Figures are based on fuel prices as of May 2020.
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