Beautiful displays of light are an integral part of the holiday season. From Christmas trees to house exteriors, from yard displays to downtown decorations, there seem to be cheerful light displays just about everywhere this time of year.
But what’s the price for all this holiday cheer? How much energy are we really using? What’s the risk of fire or the release of carcinogens and other toxins? But most importantly, how can we reduce the health and environmental impacts of (while still enjoying) our holiday lighting? Here are a few tips:
Opt for LED
Choose LED (or light-emitting diode) strings of lights for your Christmas tree or outdoor decorations. LEDs use nearly 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Although they may cost more to purchase, you can easily make up the savings over the life of the bulbs. Compared to incandescents, LED lights also run cooler than, making them a safer option (i.e. reducing fire risk); are more durable; and stay lit up to 10 times longer.
Invest in a Timer
Some sets of holiday lights (and candles) now come with built-in timers. But if not, it’s definitely worth investing in one! It will save you time and money, and save energy.
Look for Natural Candles
Did you know that most candles are made from paraffin, a non-renewable, petroleum-based substance? When burned, paraffin candles also release a slew of carcinogens into the air, including acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and toluene – not to mention the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide!
Instead, choose natural candles made from soy or other vegetable waxes. They are toxin-free and actually burn longer than their conventional counterparts. Also look for candles with wooden or cotton wicks to avoid the dangerous concentrations of lead and zinc found in conventional candles.
Essential Elements Candles have a soy wax base, 100% cotton wick, and come in 8 intoxicating scents. Also check out Soy Basics Seed Soy Candles – a clean burning soy candle housed in jars made of 30% recycled glass. They come in 12 amazing scents like cinnamon roll, crumb cake, vanilla coffee, and orange grove.
Or for the ultimate upcycled candle, try Paddywax! These soy candles are held in recycled wine bottles, making them a beautiful, unique, and eco-friendly gift idea.
If you’re just seeking ambiance (and not aromatherapy), rechargeable LED tealights are a great option! With up to 20 hours of burn time per charge and a realistic flickering flame, these just might be better than the real thing!
If you’ve got other great ideas for eco-friendly holiday lighting, share them in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.
Image Credit: Ben K Adams/Flickr