Dreaming of a Green Christmas?
Many of us revel in the joy of Christmas and it does not need to take its toll on the planet. As we become more mindful of the impact of our purchases and daily decisions on the environment, there are more and more resources to hand to support us in our quest.
We could fill an A-Z of tips for a more eco-friendly Christmas but you will have nipped off for a mince pie half way through, so we will list a top 10 easy ways to ensure a greener festive season.
1. Christmas Trees - there are pros and cons to the types of Christmas Trees readily available (artificial and real cut) but perhaps the best is to grow your own or buy a potted rooted tree that you can use year after year and becomes a wonderful tradition. Make sure your tree is from a sustainable supplier by checking this directory. When Christmas is over, recycle your tree at a local garden centre or check where the local authority has set up. Less than 20% of trees are recycled each year, wasting an opportunity to create biomass that provides nutrients for depleted soil.
2. Decorations - hand-in-hand with trees comes decoration. Pinterest is brimming with ideas for DIY decorations but if time is not on your side there are many recycled decorations or durable, meaningful ornaments available. Choose plastic-free and think of the lifetime of the decoration when making your decisions. Visit the local Christmas markets and craft shows for handmade decorations.
Set a festive table with glittery pinecones (biodegradable, vegan glitter available here), ivy and holly. We have napkin rings and table decorations made of eco-felt - recycled plastic bags and bottles. Think about natural fibres for table linen that will not cause Plastic Soup when you wash them. See point 8 on candles below.
3. Lights - everyone loves the cosy feeling of twinkling lights. Although usually made of plastic, you can choose LED energy efficient bulbs or rechargeable battery-powered lights, and use a timer to lessen the drain on electricity resources. Don't forget to turn off your lights when you are not in/are asleep. Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons. Good quality solar-powered outdoor lights will still work with daylight but check reviews and brands carefully.
4. Cards - e-cards are obviously the zero-waste winners but people like to receive a personal touch in the post. If cards are for you, choose those made of recycled paper that give to charity...and don't forget to recycle them after Christmas. Many large retailers have collection bins for cards after the festive season.
5. Gifts - less is more so don't be wooed by hundreds of "stocking stuffers" that flood the shops at this time of year. Big brands admit to stocking up on hand warmers and socks in plastic baubles just for Christmas and we buy them by the boatload! A sustainable, eco-friendly gift with a story provides endless talking points on Christmas Day and the receiver will appreciate the thought that went into the present. Can you imagine the impact on the environment, if everyone received a bamboo toothbrush in their stocking this year? How many hundreds of thousands of plastic toothbrushes would be saved from the seas? Now that's a gift worth giving.
6. Wrapping - one of the biggest Christmas wastes. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that an average Christmas' wasted paper would be enough to wrap up Guernsey. If we all recycled just half of of the 8,000 tonnes produced we'd save 25,000 trees. There are many inspirational, sustainable ways to wrap gifts - reusing tissue paper, foil and pre-loved gift wrap; newspapers and old fabric (a personal fave). Brown paper and string is a classic look and can be jazzed up. Use raffia (made from bark which regenerates) to tie your gifts up and not plastic-based curling ribbon. When buying new paper, look for recycled paper and avoid glossy or metallic.
7. Batteries - they seem to be required in abundance at Christmas. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, do not biodegrade and are difficult to recycle so try and choose rechargeable batteries instead.
8. Candles - soy wax candles are better for you and better for the environment so don't even think of buying those carcinogenic, paraffin-wax festive fragrances 😜
9. Feast - the statistics on food waste are shocking. Plan your meals to avoid food waste and compost all you can. Look to buy organic, ethically sourced, in-season foods and shop local to cut down on food miles and support small businesses. This Food Carbon Footprint Calculator has some interesting revelations. Choose fruit and vegetables not pre-packaged in plastic and take your own bags. Look up recipes to use up any leftovers. Avoid using disposable plates, cups and cutlery and if you do, do not use plastic!
10. Waste - by following all the tips above you would have dramatically reduced your waste but some is still inevitable. If there are items that will not go in your council's recycling bins, please stop and think before you put an item in general waste. Local Win on Waste groups, Recycle Now and Terracycle all have directories listing where you can recycle such items. A little extra effort will go a very long way to saving the planet from an early demise. Make it a great start to the New Year.
What can you do to make this Christmas the "most wonderful time of the year" for our planet?
Merry Christmas everybody 🎄🎅🏻🤶🏻⛄️