And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Gen. 1: 3-4

Use the footprint calculator available on the EarthSpiritAction Page (there are others online) to calculate the carbon footprint. Try some of the following to reduce your footprint:

Plan a dinner by candlelight one evening a week and keep most of your lights off.

If you already have a decorated Christmas tree, turn off the lights when you are not around or put them on a timer.

Change to LED lights for home and trees, if you have not already. Changing one 100 watt bulb to LED equivalent saves 52 kg CO2 per year.

Have a “no screen” evening and plan an activity such as a board game, reading, knitting, making music or story telling. Develop a check list to help kids ( and yourself) remember to turn off lights, computer, video games when not in use.

Can you turn back your thermostat a degree or two? Sweaters for Christmas? Turning your heat down 1 degree C. saves 184 K CO2 per year.

Unplug your small appliances when not in use. Put the reminder in your Advent calendar.

Wash only full loads in dishwashers and clothes washers. Wash clothes in cold water with an environmentally friendly detergent.

Used to long showers: Reducing your shower by 4 minutes per day (if you have time to stay in that long or have several people showering!!) can save 3650 gallons of water a year.

Teach kids to shower with a timer. Set it for a reasonable time or negotiate with older children.

Replace the filter in your furnace – every three months recommended for more efficiency.

Have a refrigerator rule for kids. Know what you want before opening the door! Develop a funny cartoon as a reminder to close the refrigerator door. (Good to establish before the teenage years!)

Doing Christmas baking. Observe how long it takes your oven to pre-heat. Avoid pre-heating earlier than necessary.

Install low-flow shower heads to cut back on hot water usage.

Maximise the heat from the sun by opening blinds/curtains facing the sun; close blinds at night.

Plant a tree. Tree Canada has inexpensive gifts of trees for planting across Canada. Trees are the most efficient carbon sinks.

Seal air leaks in your home. Make it a family fun activity to find them.

Involve them in deciding a suitable penalty for forgetting (for example, less screen time, or part of their allowance donated to an environmental organization or ecojustice group). Have kids monitor the adults for compliance as well!

If you are not a regular bus rider, look up the schedule and see what transportation needs can be met by public transport this season. Choose “a bus day” for an entry in your advent calendar.

Organize the chores to minimize your car usage and avoid unnecessary trips.

Are you a cycler? Have you been one earlier? Biking in the city is getting easier. Also Ecology Action Centre has a program for kids and for adults introducing/re-introducing safe cycling in Halifax. Plan for spring bicycling.
Check out resources in your neighbourhood that you can walk to.

Buy gifts, food and clothing from local sources as much as possible. Transportation of these items has a large impact on carbon footprint.

If you are travelling for the holidays, pay the carbon offset. Better still calculate what the carbon footprint is and then donate its cost to one of your local or favourite environmental organizations. Ecology Action Centre, Clean Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia Nature Trust are three examples of local environmental organizations doing our work for us!

Schedule some time to read up on energy issues confronting Nova Scotia or Canada; check out creative energy solutions being proposed. Take a stand and tell your municipal or provincial representatives how you feel about these issues.

Check out Efficiency Nova Scotia There are new incentives coming down! They also have incentives for businesses if you are a business owner. Have your home or business assessed for possible support in making your places more energy efficient.

Escape the high energy maintenance of our homes in winter! Make plans to enjoy the outdoors regularly especially during the holidays. Appreciate the beauty of our natural world. Pay attention to the other-than-human inhabitants that depend on our care and respect for their habitats. They all play a role in supporting our lives.

If you have kids or relatives with kids visiting for Christmas, take a trip to the Discovery centre – check out the energy exhibit and the locally centred footprint calculator.

Give gift donations to organizations working to help workers transition to jobs in the alternative energy fields. Earth and Iron is one such working in Canada; it was founded and is run by workers.

Looking for bigger changes: Check out new incentives for solar power. Review your investments – consider investing in companies supporting wind, tidal or solar power. Check out the new energy monitors that can check the performance of the appliances in your home. There are many with different capacities.