It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas is not renowned for being the most environmentally friendly.
Indeed, it is traditionally quite the opposite and a time when our consumption of food, drink and spending in general reaches its peak.
Whether it’s the tree and decorations we buy to adorn our homes, or the enormous amounts of food and drink we consume, not to mention the rainforest that has to be cut down to provide enough wrapping paper for all those presents, we could all do with being more sustainable when it comes to the festive season.
And, following the recent COP26 summit and the pleas from the likes of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg to make more environmentally friendly decisions about our lives, now is the time to find and embrace ways to do our bit. Even small changes can make a difference in reducing our carbon footprint.
But before you recoil in horror, to do so doesn’t mean scrimping on fun. In fact, by changing just a few things, you can still enjoy the festivities and even save a few bob in the process.
Perhaps one of the biggest ways to reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill in the new year is choosing gifts wisely.
It’s easy to get carried away especially when the shops are full of tempting offers but take a step back and think about who you are buying for and why.
Instead of maxing out the credit cards and your overdraught facility, fix a limit on present expenditure and stick to it. In additionaddition, think about reducing the numbers of people you buy for, or, capping a figure over which you won’t go.
Once your budget is sorted, think about the kind of presents you are buying. Those which can be eaten or drunk are great alternatives to yet another pair of socks and once they’ve been consumed, are not going to clutter up the home or make their way to landfill.
Other ideas include handmade gifts, particularly if they are edible, things that can be used or enjoyed such as soaps, a plant or a reusable water bottle, or a subscription to an environmental charity.
When it comes to wrapping them up, look for paper that can be recycled or use brown paper which you can decorate yourself.
Have a go at making Christmas cards or buy ones that are made sustainably, donate a portion of the sale price to a charity or that can be planted in the garden. While you may want to keep a few, make sure you recycle the rest.
One of the easiest green swaps is going for a real tree rather than artificial. Not only will it make your home smell nice, if it is a pot bound variety it can be planted out in the garden afterwards, or can be recycled into mulch or chippings. By contrast, most artificial trees are made from plastic and other materials that can’t be recycled so their environmental impact is greater than a real one.
Decorations too can and should be green so get your creative juices flowing by either making your own or recycling old ones. Ditch shop bought crackers and their plastic surprises and opt for making your own. Wreaths and garlands of seasonal foliage including holly, ivy and mistletoe not only look and smell much nicer than their artificial alternatives, they can also be recycled when the decorations come down.
Finally, perhaps the biggest contributors to the mountain of waste over the festive season is food. Most of us are guilty of over-consumption but we are also prone to buying more than we need, resulting in a significant amount being binned.
As most food shops are open on Boxing Day, it really does pay to not go overboard and only stock up on things you need – not only will it save on fridge and freezer space, it will save you money too! Choose organic or free rangefree-range food and if there are any leftovers, freeze what you can and compost the rest.
And finally, don’t forget to shop locally. Not only are you supporting a local, independentindependent, or small business, you will also minimising your global carbon footprint.