I’ve always been an environmentally conscious person. I love to do my part in keeping the world clean by recycling, thrifting and being aware of how my actions impact the environment.
Usually, most of my efforts are focused in the spring, which is when I create a spring wardrobe and go outdoors more. However, I have found myself focusing on the environment more in the spring than I do in the winter.
This is when I decided to do some research and discovered that this line of thinking is problematic, as the winter has the highest rates of pollution. Since air is drier in the winter and there is less rain, pollution stays in the air longer than in the warmer months. Practices like leaving an engine on to heat a car during the winter also further pollute the air.
In light of this information, here are some tips I want to share to help create a greener winter.
Technology has evolved so that there is no need to turn on an engine to heat many types of cars. Turning on a car’s ignition without turning on the engine is an environmentally friendly way to heat a car. By doing this, the vehicle will not let out gas emissions through the exhaust, limiting air pollution.
Using public transportation is another great way to reduce gas emissions in the winter.
When dealing with snow and ice, usually snow melts and ice salt comes to mind. These can be damaging to the surrounding earth and wildlife. Some effective alternatives are vinegar, kitty litter, sand, coffee grounds and calcium chloride. While things like kitty litter and sand will not melt snow and ice, they provide good traction that makes walking around on the snow and ice safer.
Moving inside the home, there are many ways to be green and help save money. In any weather, it is a good idea to unplug any electronics that are not being used. These electronics consume energy even if the appliances are not turned on. This phantom power can contribute up to about 10% of an electricity bill.
Another great way to reduce energy output — and subsequently cost — is by turning off the heat before leaving your home. The same goes for turning down the heat at night, as bundling up helps reduce extra energy consumption.
Also, spring and summer aren’t the only time to thrift. Thrifting sweaters is not only cost efficient but environmentally friendly. Amazing vintage sweaters with unique designs are great finds and something I look forward to every year.
If thrifting isn’t your style, hunting for jackets that are ethically sourced and made is a great way to be environmentally conscious every winter season. While ethically sourcing any clothing item can be pricey, they are usually made of high-quality materials that will last a long time. This website is a great source to check the ethicality of different clothing brands.
As a crafter by heart, I love hand-making gifts. When the holidays roll around, homemade gifts are great zero waste ideas for friends and loved ones. The same goes for giving heirlooms or gift cards to help ensure the gift is valued and used.
In America, around the winter holidays, 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper ends up in landfills annually. When wrapping gifts, reuse wrapping paper or even consider using newspapers to help reduce waste.
Lastly, as described in fantastic detail by fellow opinion columnist Lexi Goeman, eating with the season is a great way to enjoy some tasty seasonal treats and reduce waste this winter.
While these tips may not be applicable to everyone, I believe they are great pieces of advice to be shared around. Making some small changes could have a big impact this winter season.
Alexia Woodall is a sophomore secondary education, secondary English and journalism major. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.