The holiday season has finally returned! One staple of this joyous time of year is extravagant light displays. While these displays certainly bring holiday cheer, they can also be a big source of energy consumption and potentially harmful to our local ecosystem. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the impact of your light display on both your wallet and our environment, without sacrificing any holiday spirit, and maybe even adding to it!
So why is it important to think about your use of holiday lights? Holiday lights not only increase electricity usage (and your electricity bill), but are also a large contributor of light pollution. A NASA study found that holiday lighting displays increased light pollution in rural and suburban areas by up to 50%! This drastic increase of light pollution greatly disrupts the natural cycles for not only nocturnal animals, but humans too. Increased light pollution is directly correlated with a decrease in sleep quality. Light pollution also greatly decreases the visibility of stars and the potential of missing out on great astronomical events like the Geminid meteor shower, which occurs in mid-December each year. So what can you do to reduce the impact of your lighting display?
- Use LED lights
The first thing you can do that will help reduce your energy consumption and electric bill is switch to LED lights. These lights can last up to 20 years and use 80-90% less power than incandescent light bulbs. That’s a huge difference!
- Set a timer
Enjoy your festive light display during the evenings, but make sure to set a timer to turn them off before you go to bed. This will save you money and help our local nocturnal animals who rely on dark nights to function properly. It could even help you and your neighbors get a better night’s rest too. Learn more about the dark skies movement.
- Use alternative decorations to reduce waste
While holiday lights are undoubtedly a holiday classic, so too are other less disruptive, natural decor such as wreaths, pinecones, strings of pine and holly, etc. These decorations also reduce the significant amount of plastic waste generated in the holiday season.
- If you do need to throw lights out, dispose of them properly
- Never throw holiday string lights into a trash bin on their own. The cords are a hazard and can tangle and damage machines or injure workers. Make sure holiday string lights are bagged before disposal!
- There are also companies that accept shipments of broken or old holiday string lights and recycle them, such as Holiday LEDs.
By incorporating these sustainable practices into your holiday celebrations, you can make a positive impact on the environment without sacrificing the holiday spirit. This season, let’s come together to create joyous, sustainable traditions that will benefit both our communities and the planet for years to come.