Well, a couple of weeks in, I’m still pressing in with the weekly challenges on Tread Lightly, The Guardian newspaper’s on-line initiative based on making, and hopefully fulfilling, simple pledges to make small life changes that reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

This week they focus on the energy that many of us will use in lighting our Christmas trees.


Since I only have a very tiny tree, the only promise I was able to make was to “switch on the few lights on my small Christmas tree for just seven hours a day for 15 days over Christmas (saving 770 g of CO2 next week)” – rather easy actually, as I probably would not have thought to put the lights on until after dark anyway. Consequently, I’m probably credited with rather more carbon dioxide saving than my effort really represents. With this and my previous completed pledges, my savings have amounted to an amazing 14.21kg! More incredibly, though, is the total saving from lots of people doing it – a staggering 3.51 tonnes on this task alone!


What is always interesting on Tread Lightly is reading the comments of other subscribers – in this case there are several people who point out that this is quite a non-challenging challenge, as many people are happy to go without electric lights on their tree altogether, and others suggesting that changing from ordinary lights to LEDs would be a bigger step. Last week’s challenge was to do all your washing at 30 degrees Celsius, which was also quite easy, but I was interested in the comments of others. I gave up ironing years ago, deciding that it was a chore that produced negligible benefit. I was surprised to find others saying they had done the same. I had never thought of it in energy saving terms before, though, other than my own!


As someone who adores Christmas, and all the accompanying kitsch, I couldn’t possibly not illuminate my little tree, but I have found that there are some really good LED alternatives. There are some lovely blue snowflake lights at Environmental Lights, as well as many other designs. Amazon has a particularly good range – I’m particularly enamoured of this cute little tabletop Christmas tree, already decorated and with lights in three different, gorgeous colours. How can you not be tempted by such reward for so little effort?




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