A-Z of tips for a green Christmas

November 26, 2018



Christmas doesn't have to be a time of excess if you follow a few simple steps:


A is for artificial trees- These are not necessarily greener - although they last for longer, they are made from plastic, not recyclable or from a renewable source and have probably been shipped great distances. Real trees help to remove carbon from the atmosphere while they are growing. Real trees that can be replanted would be the best option.


B is for batteries- New gifts at Christmas often mean that households go through a lot of batteries. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, do not biodegrade and are difficult to recycle. As an alternative try, rechargeable batteries. There are new AA size USB rechargeable batteries.


C is for Candles- Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment. Candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax are more eco-friendly because they biodegrade and smoke-free.


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?

Compost- Compost all your food peelings into rich soil nutrition.

Clothes 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.

Christmas trees- Real trees are the more eco-friendly choice, as long as you consider where and how they have been grown.

Make sure you get one from a sustainable source. There are over 400 Christmas tree growers across the UK registered with the British Christmas Tree Growers' Association, where trees are grown according to strict guidelines governing everything from sustainable seeds and cultivation to protecting local wildlife.

The Soil Association also certifies some trees as organic, which means that no pesticides will have been used during growing.

You could also choose a tree with roots so that it can be replanted.


For something altogether different there's always the Woodland Trust's new "'eco trees" made of recycled card that you can fold down and use year after year. Or you could just forego the whole palaver and dedicate a tree - it'll offset some carbon emissions, too.

Recycle your tree after Christmas. Six million trees brightened up homes and offices across Britain last year, of which only 10% were recycled. The rest went into landfill, a wasted opportunity to create biomass that would have provided nutrients for depleted soil. Many local authorities and garden centres will be recycling Christmas trees after the festive period.


D is for Decorations- Use recycled decorations - Revolve uses CDs and juice cartons to make your tree sparkle. Or decorate your tree with products that are fairly traded and ethically sourced. The WWF has some ideas here. Or get creative and make your own - ideas here.

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.


E is for eco-bags- Use a cotton shopper bag instead of all that plastic.


F is for food shopping- For some horrifying statistics on how much food we throw away, read this story.

By the time the ingredients that make up the average British Christmas dinner arrive on our plates, they have travelled a combined distance of 49,000 miles. Turkeys from Europe, vegetables from Africa, wine from the southern hemisphere, cranberries from America - the turkey and trimmings add up to the equivalent of 6,000 car trips around the world, new research from the University of Manchester has found. Try this food foodprint calculator to check some of your ingredients.


Buy an organic turkey. Ten million turkeys are eaten every Christmas, so try to make sure it has been reared in humane conditions.


Buy local or buy less. Produce bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimising your carbon footprint. Shop at a local farmers' market, or try growing some of your own vegetables where possible.


Buy your fruit and vegetables loose and ditch all that wasteful plastic packaging. Make sure the goods that are packaged are made from recycled materials.


Buy drinks in bigger bottles rather than small ones. One large bottle generates less waste than several smaller ones.


K is for keeping your curtains closed- This keeps heat in and saves energy and money. And with all those guests to entertain, more heat is going to be generated anyway.


L is for lights- Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons, so turn them off when they are not needed, or switch to LED lights.

If you haven't already - make it a new year's resolution to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs (sign up for this Tread lightly pledge here).


P is for Plastic-free- More than 17bn plastic bags are handed out by supermarkets a year - that's 300 for every man, woman and child - causing nearly 60,000 tonnes of plastic to go to landfill sites.

Presents Buy local or buy less. Each Christmas, 4,000 tonnes of products arrive from China. Presents bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimising your carbon footprint.


Do you have to buy gifts? Could you buy an "experience" instead? Try cinema tickets, club memberships, gift tokens. Sponsor an animal, buy them some rainforest to protect - but don't give them another unwanted gift which they will simply throw away.


R is for recycle- According to Recyclenow.com, English households will throw out an additional 3m tonnes - that's five sacks of rubbish per family - over the festive period. Much of this will be waste that could have been recycled.

If you're not doing it already, it's getting harder to have an excuse not to recycle, with nine out of 10 homes in Britain now having a doorstep recycling service which will take paper, card, glass and metal cans.

If you don't have a doorstep service, take your drinks bottles and paper to the recycling bank when you next go to the supermarket, or find out whether your area has a local recycling depot here.


T is for Turning off your appliances- Turning your appliances off at the mains, rather than leaving them on standby. This saves huge amounts of carbon.


U is for using the right-sized pan- Use the right-sized pan for the vegetables you cook, and only boil the kettle with the amount of water you need.


W is for wrapping- This constitutes one of the biggest Christmas wastes - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that last year's wasted paper would be enough to wrap up the Channel island of Guernsey. If we all recycled just half of of the 8,000 tonnes produced we'd save 25,000 trees. Try wrapping your presents in brown or recycled paper, foil or newspaper, and using string to tie it up.


Y is for Yule log- Make your own festive traditions instead of buying them.


Z is for zero, zero intolerence for excessiveness. By planning gifts, gadgets all shopping and electricity you will make a considerable difference.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Featured Posts

I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

Please reload

Recent Posts
Please reload