3 Cheerful Eco-Friendly Tips to Brighten the Darkest Days of the Year

Try these three easy eco-friendly tips to brighten your day!

1. Purchase live trees, flowers, and plants instead of cut varieties

Beautiful bouquets of flowers are hard to resist, especially in winter when it seems so little is blooming. But, there are a variety of winter-blooming favorites that would be happy in your home, either year-round or temporarily. Three that come to mind are cyclamen, Christmas cactus, and, if you like to have a tree up at this time of year, a live, native tree that you can plant in the spring (or return to the store for them to plant).

Why it’s eco-friendly: live plants sequester carbon, purchasing locally-available varieties reduces fuel consumption for transport, supports local economies

Moss-covered tree, WA, 1927 Credit: Darius Kinsey
Planting a native tree supports our iconic forest ecosystems. Image: Darius Kinsey (1927) / flickr / UW Digital Collections

2. Bring your own containers to the grocery store

We are all familiar with the “Bring your own reusable bag” movement, but you can bring your own containers too! If your grocery store has a bulk section, bring in those tupperware, old yogurt containers, or whatever else you have on hand and fill those babies up! Be sure the containers are clean and try not to touch the scoop to the container – a watchful attendant will appreciate your attention to public health. Then, just write the code on the tags they make available, snap it between the lid of the container and the container itself, and you’re good to go. Easy!

Why it’s eco-friendly: reduces the consumption of packaging materials, fewer plastic bags are used for bulk items, reduces food waste because you can buy as much or as little as you want, encourages the market for bulk buying (reinforcing the previous three points)

Seattle stores with bulk areas: I especially like the Ballard Fred Meyer and Uptown Metropolitan Market.

Bonus tip: If you want to save a few extra pennies, weigh your container and write down the weight on the tag so the cashier can subtract it from your purchase. I find that a larger plastic container such as the 64 oz. tub of Nancy’s yogurt weights about 1/8 lb. (0.125 lbs).

3. If driving, get warm and cozy in the car before starting your trip

With chilly weather the norm these days, a toasty car always brightens my spirits. I love to sit there as the car warms up: shoulders hunched, hands snugly ensconced in mittens, radio on, shivering a bit as the car’s engine moves from a somewhat-noisy rattle to a low, purring hum. Once I hear that hum, both my car and I are warm and ready to go!

Why it’s eco-friendly: a car’s emissions-control equipment performs best when the car is the right, warm temperature

Do you have eco-tips to brighten the darkest time of year? Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!