Often our celebrations at Christmas have a negative effect on the planet because of the amount of waste we create. There are many things we can do to make Christmas more eco-friendly. Here are some ideas:
- Tree and Decorations: Buy a real plant that you can decorate every year or make one from branches from your garden. Make your own decorations from natural objects or buy non-plastic ones. Regard your present plastic decorations (eg tinsel) as precious objects that you will keep for years.
- Gifts: Give the gift of an experience rather than a thing. Gift vouchers are good for hard-to-buy-for people or look in local craft shops for a hand-made gift. Make a donation to a charity such as Oxfam where you can buy a goat or a chicken for people who really would benefit from the gift. Buy wooden toys and choose plastic toys that will last for many years (eg Lego).
- Cards and Wrapping Paper: Send e-cards and phone people to let them know you are thinking of them if you can’t see them in person. Recycle wrapping paper. Wrap gifts in brown paper and twine or offcuts of material and reusable ribbon. Avoid curling ribbon and sticky tape.
- Food: To make your Christmas meals as environmentally friendly as possible, serve more vegetarian options. But if choosing the traditional fare of turkey, ham and prawns buy smaller amounts and serve more salads and vegetables.
Avoid packaging where possible. However soft plastic wrapping can be washed and recycled via REDcycle bins and hard plastics can be recycled in the recycle bin. Purchase food ingredients from bulk and organic stores and make your own or buy produce from your local farmers market. Prepare less than you think as we all over-cater at Christmas!
Taking care of your food means that you will have less food waste! Leave food out of the fridge for no more than 2 hours (inside) and 1 hour (outside). Food left out for longer must not be eaten. Vegetable and fruit leftovers can be put in your compost bin. Meat and fish can be frozen in compostable bags and put in the green-lid bin just before collection. To reuse safe leftover food, think about how it can be incorporated in other meals (eg risotto, pasta, patties). Use leftovers in 2-3 days or freeze the food in labelled containers.
For us Christmas is a celebration of life and love, and spending time with dear family and friends is the most important aspect of the holiday. If we all take steps to be more mindful about what we buy and do over Christmas we can make it a season of goodwill for all the species on our beautiful Earth.
Wishing you all a joyous, peaceful and low-waste Christmas, Love from Sue and Jay.