It really is time to take this task seriously and to do whatever is in our power and ability to save our planet. Right now – even at Christmas. There is no time like the present! And if you want to make your Christmas more eco-friendly this year, here are some ideas for small changes towards a ‘greener’ festive season [mostly taken from this website].
I hope, you’ll find some inspirations for change!
Which is better – you might wonder - an artificial or a real tree?
Neither is ideal, really, but if you've got a fake tree already, keep using it – make it last as long as possible. And look into environmentally-sound options when it eventually comes to replacing it. Real trees are not always bad and they can be recycled. Up to 8 million real trees are bought every December in the UK alone. If you want to be reassured that your tree has been grown sustainably, not in a way that's environmentally damaging, look for the FSC-certification logo. You can also buy a potted tree with roots that let you grow it outside and use it again next year, reducing its environmental impact and costing you less. But they do need some looking after, and you'll need a big pot. Alternatively, if you're feeling a bit radical or non-traditional, get a large perennial indoor plant – like a yucca, palm, fig etc – and just decorate it at Christmas.
If you're buying presents for planet-loving friends and family, try and find eco-friendly options, such as the Friends of the Earth eco-clothing range , or a Christmas Bee Saver Kit (which includes wrapping paper and cards – and everything you need to become a bee saver). Alternatively, this Christmas embrace the ‘maker movement’. Knit, bake, get crafty, help the planet and feel good. Or try to cut back on the consumerism altogether and don’t spend any money at all. Instead pledge to do something nice instead for someone you know or for a good cause. Free Christmas Gift Cheques are a great way of making your time the thing that counts – the money you save could even go to a charitable cause.
According to the Soil Association, "food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact". Why not try cutting down (or out) the meat this Christmas – at least for some days of the festive break? Why not be nicer to turkeys at Christmas and look at Vegetarian or vegan recipes sites for ideas – these really have become a lot more tasty and interesting in the last years! If you can't get past the meat craving, try choosing organic and free-range, and support small-scale farming wherever possible. It might be a bit more expensive, but it's better to buy less than more of the cheap and cheerless intensively-farmed meat.
To cut your food waste, try and choose things that are light on packaging, or buy loose items. And please don't just bin what's left. Leftovers can be transformed into new meals, save money and cut waste. Why not invite neighbours or church family over for a leftover-challenge to suggest recipes with whatever you’ve got in the fridge; cook and eat it together and have fun. If you have too many leftovers, see what you can freeze. And compost any other waste.
Research suggests that the paper waste over the Christmas period is equivalent to 5-12 million litres of biofuel – enough to power a bus to go to the moon 20 times. Someone somewhere came up with the ingenious idea of using a scarf to wrap a present – and the results are pretty amazing. Or use newspapers or magazines saved from your recycling – the more colourful the better. If you're not into folding, a reusable cloth bag decorated with cut-outs from old Christmas cards would look great under the tree.
An unbelievable 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK households each year, according to Imperial College researchers. E-cards (sent online) are an increasingly popular alternative. They cut your carbon footprint, save trees and save money. Or make use of communal Christmas card schemes. Explain to your friends and families why you are not giving them the card they have come to expect – they will be impressed!
Sadly, a lot of standard decorations – including tinsel and glitter – are made from plastic, often PVC. They're hardly environmentally friendly. Think of more natural alternatives instead and make your own Christmas decorations. You can also try getting creative with dried fruit peel, pine cones, Christmas tree offcuts and the like. Or at least re-use the decoration for as long as you can.
Food for thought? I really hope you found something you can implement over the next few weeks or even longer term. Either way, I am wishing you very happy and merry ‘green’ Christmas,