Green gift giving
We want everyone to enjoy their festivities. But if you consider that over £700million is spent on unwanted gifts each year, it does make us wonder if we really need all this stuff? Many of us are keen to live more sustainable, and we may not want more “stuff”. Perhaps consider giving experiences or making edible treats such as biscuits or chocolates, or more adventurous craft activities such as bath bombs or beeswax wraps. Some of the best presents could be carefully or thoughtfully chosen second hand ones, or items made from recycled things. Or, a secret Santa if you have a large group of people to buy for – that way everyone gets to spend a bit more on something the person will really like. Maybe avoid novelty gifts.
Your Christmas tree: real or fake?
Real trees are the most eco-friendly choice – make sure you get one from a sustainable source. Look for the symbol of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), where trees are grown according to strict guidelines governing everything from sustainable seeds and cultivation to protecting local wildlife.
If you already have a fake tree—it’s fine to bring it out each year to decorate. But if you are thinking of investing in a new one, be aware that they are made of PVC and are not eco-friendly.
Green your Christmas lighting
Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting. They use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. So, they not only save you money, but also if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
Outdoor lighting displays are very popular. Here are some suggestions to help when using outdoor lighting:
- Use LED lights.
- Leave the displays on for a shorter time.
- Turn them off when you go to bed.
You can buy environmentally-friendly wrapping paper but this may be more expensive than the plethora of cheap and often metallic paper that is widely available. This generally can’t be recycled. Try wrapping gifts in plain brown paper or even newspaper and tie with some colourful, reusable ribbons, raffia or string. You can also wrap in fabric, scarves or reuse old wrapping paper –and create an attractive flower or bow to decorate. Try to avoid tape, so that you can reuse more easily and be greener. Or, you can buy inexpensive eco tape online – try The Plastic Free Shop.
Green Christmas cards
Homemade cards are more personal and can be just as appreciated as shop-bought. Making the cards is also a fun activity for the family during the weeks before Christmas. Try to avoid glitter cards.
E-cards are an increasingly popular alternative. They cut your carbon footprint, save trees and save money. There are some really amazing animated cards available. Or, film your own.
- Make your own Christmas crackers from old toilet roll tubes and cracker snaps if you feel really creative – head to YouTube to see how. You’ll have to supply your own cheesy jokes though!
- Choose gifts made locally or from renewable sources, or those that have been recycled.
- Try to avoid single-use plastic – particularly single-use novelty toys which are abound at Christmas.
- Plan your Christmas meals to help reduce food waste. Make a list before you shop, buy locally, measure your portions properly, freeze leftovers or use them the next day.
- If you have a home compost bin don’t forget to put the vegetable peelings from your Christmas dinner in it.
Information supplied by Sustainable Overton, visit their website for more information or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.