Save money and care for our environment this Christmas with our easy ideas.
Christmas lights – Indoor LED lights are brighter and more efficient than standard lights, using 75% less energy, so switching means you’ll save energy and money! Using a timer is another way to save energy, and also means no worries about leaving lights on accidentally.
Advent Calendars – To cut down on waste, why not treat yourself – or a little loved one – to a wooden or fabric Advent Calendar?
Wood, fabric or glass decorations
Decorations – Natural plants and cuttings make a nice change from tinsel and plastic baubles, which often aren’t recyclable. Pine cones and dried slices of citrus fruit make beautiful, fragrant decorations. And holly, berries and ivy from the garden make an amazing Christmas wreath. Decorations made from recycled wood, fabric or glass make a good alternative to plastic.
Celebrations – Defrosting your freezer before Christmas will help it function more efficiently – and free up space for leftovers! Having the family round? Planning ahead will help reduce waste, as will using reusable cups, plates and glasses rather than single-use plastic cups and paper plates. Buying locally helps support small suppliers in your community and cuts air miles, and buying loose fruit and veg cuts down on packaging. If you do have leftovers, you can use them to create comforting dishes like bubble and squeak, or perhaps donate them to an elderly neighbour or local food bank. Check if anything’s freezable, and try to compost any other food waste. Remember to take fabric bags when you head to the shops – and try not to leave them in the car!
Recycling real trees
Christmas trees – Although artificial trees can last a number of years, they’re usually non-recyclable, eventually ending up in landfill. They’re also often shipped from overseas, which isn’t environmentally–friendly. If you’re buying a real tree, the British Tree Growers’ Association can help you check your tree is from a sustainable source; one with roots will allow it to be replanted and reused next year. Real trees can be composted after Christmas, or taken to your local Christmas tree recycling centre, and some local councils offer a free collection service in the New Year. Or why not hire your tree?
Wrapping paper – one estimate suggests that while around 300,000 miles of wrapping paper will be used over the festive period, not all of it can be recycled, especially if it contains glitter or foil. Why not keep this year’s wrapping paper to reuse next year? Or use brown paper, and Christmas-it-up with some festive string and sprigs of pine?
Cards – 100% recycled cards are available – and the Forest Stewardship Council symbol (FSC) on the back will let you know your cards have been sustainably sourced. Or why not send an e-card?
Gifts – Lots of unwanted gifts are binned. If you do receive a gift you don’t want, perhaps you could consider donating it to a good cause? Secret Santa gift-giving, so everyone in the family buys just one gift, can help cut down waste. And if everyone you know has everything they need, ethical Christmas gifts can help people in the developing world. Websites such as www.market.unicef.org.uk/inspired-gifts/ and www.sciaf.org.uk/real-gifts-store help provide needy families with essentials such as seeds and chickens, to provide food and a little extra income; prices start around £4. Or why not make a donation on a loved one’s behalf to Friends of the Earth and receive a Bee Saver Kit, and help give your neighbourhood bees vital food and habitat?