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How to Enjoy a Green Christmas

It’s a relatively little known fact that Santa Claus was traditionally depicted as wearing green, and still is in many parts of the world. In fact the red and white suit we see today appeared in the very early part of the 20th century and was cemented in people’s imaginations by a Coca Cola advertising campaign.

With so much excess, and the resulting waste, that happens at Christmas perhaps it’s time he went back to green! Seriously though, noone expects us to not to buy gifts or eat and drink to excess, but there are some things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint while still enjoying the festive season.

Think About How Many Christmas Cards You Send

Every year, in the UK alone, literally millions of Christmas cards are given out, to loved ones, friends, work colleagues, even local shopkeepers! Let’s be honest, most of these will not really be appreciated. I still have cards in my drawer at work that I received from colleagues last year! Appreciated or not, they all end up in the bin by New Year’s Day.

I split people into two categories, those I would buy an individual card for and those I would give a card out of a pack to. Instead of sending cards to the latter group, I now donate what I would have spent to a charity. Children’s homes and homeless shelters are a good option. They will appreciate the donation far more and it’s certainly much better for the environment. Tell people in plenty of time what you plan to do and you will avoid the additional waste, not to mention the embarrassment, of them buying you a card.

For those people close to you, think about sending an E-Card. You can design it yourself; making it much more personal, it’s carbon neutral and it won’t get lost or delayed in the post.

It’s worth remembering that cards were originally invented before the days of the telephone and the motor car, when it was the only way to pass on Christmas wishes to those living in other parts of the country.

Try to Buy Eco-Friendly Gifts

There are a number of eco-friendly gifts available, such as eco-friendly kettles, energy monitors, wind-up radios etc. There are also lots of eco-friendly toys which are great for kids. As well as being fun, which is of course the important thing, they can educate children about the need to conserve energy so that the next generation might not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Eco-friendly toys often don’t need batteries too, which solves another common Christmas day problem!

Don’t Overlook Charity Shops

The idea of buying Christmas gifts from a charity shop might seem a step too far to most people, and I wouldn’t recommend it for your wife or girlfriend, but they are definitely worth a look. Not only can you pick up some bargains, and help out someone in need, but you can reduce your festive carbon footprint.

Buy Locally Sourced Food

Where possible try to buy locally sourced food. It will support your local economy and mean your food has to travel less miles meaning less carbon emissions. Even if you can’t afford (or don’t have) a local farm shop, Check your local supermarket and see what they have available.

Try to buy a locally sourced tree too, of better still a fake one that you can use again and again.

Use Gift Bags Instead of Wrapping Paper

Reams upon reams of wrapping paper are purchased, torn up and thrown away every year. Gift bags can be just as attractive and can be used again year after year.

Recycle Your Waste

It is inevitable that you will produce some waste. What you do produce, recycle where possible. Take bottles to bottle banks, Compost old food and recycle any paper or cardboard. Sweet tins make good sewing boxes or cake tins. Old wrapping paper can be used to stuff things like home made draught excluders.

Many people throw unused Christmas cards and wrapping away just because it is inconvenient to store them but this is terribly wasteful. If you can’t store them for next year then give them to a charity shop.

Recycle Old Gifts

Often at Christmas you will receive gifts that you just don’t want or need. If they can’t returned, of you don’t want to offend whoever gave them, then either donate them to a charity shop or keep them for next year and give them to someone else. If you do this though, make sure you keep a note of who gave you what so that noone finds out!

Have a Low Carbon January

Do make sure you enjoy your Christmas and remember, you can always offset your extra carbon usage by being more careful in January.

1 Comment to How to Enjoy a Green Christmas

  1. Eva's Gravatar Eva
    November 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Some good advice – thank you.
    With regards to the Christmas Cards (birthday cards or any other cards for that matter) I think it’s a shame that we forget the beauty of receiving a handwritten card or letter. Yes, think about who you really want to send a card, but do the effort and send them an old fashion handwritten one.

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