Christmas can get a little excessive. More food than you can stomach, enough booze to keep a cruise liner afloat, colours more garish than Nanny’s new sequin slip ons and more unrequested renditions of Mariah’s ‘All I want For Christmas’ than your boss did shots at the Christmas party. We love it, but lend a little thought for the planet this Christmas with some simple tweaks to make sure we can have a million more beautiful Christmases.
Compost all your food peelings or get a wormery to help break down the vegetable food waste into rich soil nutrition. This is not just for Christmas! Home composting is a great way to stop this sort of waste ending up in landfill, and our gardens will really thank us for it. If you live in an area that has a local food waste recycling collection service, it can be recycled into a good quality soil improver or fertiliser and even generate electricity that can be fed back into the national grid.
Eat Your Leftovers
Don’t forget to make the most of your food and drink. Be smart with your quantities and make a plan for your Christmas Dinner. Boxing day is for leftovers! For ideas, recipes and simple tips visit Love Food Hate Waste.
Defrost your freezer before Christmas
It will work more efficiently and create more space to store leftover food, so that it doesn’t go to waste.
Buy High Welfare
If you are a meat-eater (like myself), eat responsibly! Ten million turkeys are eaten every Christmas, so try to make sure it has been reared in humane conditions. I couldn’t recommend a Kelly Bronze turkey, more.
Buy local or buy less
Each Christmas, 4,000 tonnes of products arrive from China. Presents bought locally mean you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimising your carbon footprint. Gifts made locally often have a wonderful story, too, and everyone loves a tale at Christmas!
Recycle your Christmas Cards
Recyclenow.com has teamed up with the Woodland Trust card recycling scheme which will allow people to recycle their cards throughout January at participating retailers. With an average of 17 cards in the UK for every man, woman and child, that’s a lot of trees saved. Can you send an e-card instead? Purchase recycled or charity cards or cut up last year’s and re-use them? Homemade cards may not be as professional, but they are more personal and just as appreciated. Making the cards is also a fun activity for the family during the weeks before Christmas.
Use Environmentally Friendly Wrapping Paper
Choose wrapping paper made using fibers such as hemp, or paper using recycled content. If we all recycled just half of the 8,000 tonnes produced we’d save 25,000 trees!
Save Any Special Gift Wrap, Ribbons, and Bows
When unwrapping large gifts, save the paper for reuse; it can often be cut down for smaller presents. Creased wrapping can be ironed flat. Ribbons and bows are easy to save and reuse.
Over 80,000 tonnes of old clothes will be thrown away this Christmas. so if you do get a new wardrobe, make sure you donate your old clothes to a local charity shop. And if you’re on the hunt for presents for your loved ones – all the good stuff starts pouring into the shops at this time of year! It’s the circle of life if we aren’t wasteful and don’t let stuff slip into landfill.
Turning down the thermostat by 1C
Not only does this save carbon and money, it’s a good excuse to resurrect the Christmas jumper (of which I have a stellar collection). The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat!
Use LED Lights
LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. You may have brought out the old faithfuls again this year but some of the oldest Christmas tree lights cost as much as 20 times as much to run as the newest LED lights. If every household in the UK swapped one string of incandescent lights for an LED equivalent over the 12 days of Christmas alone, it would amount to a saving of £16million or 57,000 tonnes of CO2 – enough to fill 320,000 double decker buses.
Turn Off Tree Lights and Outdoor House Decorative Lighting at Bedtime
It’s simply a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone’s gone to sleep. Be a ‘Grinch’ and keep them off whenever you’re out of the house, too!
Choose a Live Tree
Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.
Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost 90% are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. Also, you can’t beat the smell of a proper Christmas tree!
Family Nature Hike
A peaceful walk through nature on Christmas day will be remembered and valued more than the score of the football game. Plan your walk before the holiday meal while everyone still has lots of energy. The walk will also pique appetites and provide a shared topic for conversation during mealtime.