Christmas nowadays tends to be not so much the season of goodwill but the season of Conspicuous Consumption. It can seem very hard to do your bit for the environment whilst entering into the spirit of Christmas.
However there are lots of ideas to make this Christmas your most environmentally friendly yet – without losing out on any of the fun!
Collect up unused gadgets, outgrown toys and clothes and unwanted nick-nacks. Have a yard sale, do a car boot sale or get onto eBay!
Many schools, churchs and many charities will be having a Christmas Fair and may be grateful for donations of items in good condition. Buying and selling second hand is a good way to recycle and will often help a good cause too.
Your local charity shop will appreciate any unwanted items form surplus Christmas decorations to unwanted gifts from previous years.
The most environmentally friendly Christmas decorations are the ones you already have. I love bringing out these old friends every year to put on the tree. Some of the baubles I hang on my tree each year were the same ones that my parents used when I was a child.
Christmas decorations can be made by recycling anything from junk mail to last years Christmas cards - here are some ways to make recycled Christmas decorations.
Or you could decorate in the old-fashioned way, with branches from evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, pine cones and ivy. All these can go straight onto your compost heap on 6th January, rather than to landfill.
I love fairy lights, but they do use electricity purely for decoration. If Christmas lights are one of your non-eco festive weaknesses, then it is better to use LED lights which use only 1/10th the power of any old tungsten fairy lights that you may still have.
Better still if you light to decorate the outside of your house at Christmas how about using solar powered fairy lights? They are designed especially to work even with the low light levels that we get in winter and can be put up anywhere outside.
Remember that any old tungsten fairy lights can be recycled too.
Remember to take extra carrier bags when you do your Christmas shopping - don't get caught out when you buy something that was bulkier than expected.
That way you don't to have to buy any extra platic bags, however good you normally are at remembering to bring your own. (Guilty, I've done that a couple of times.)
Tricky one, eh - how can you wrap your Christmas gifts in a sustainable way? It's just not the same if you give out presents unwrapped is it?
You can buy recycled wrapping paper, or use colourful pages from magazines, use old boxes which you can decorate or even aluminium foil which can be reused or recycled.
Unwrap your presents carefully and save the paper for next year, or buy a roll of recycled Eco Kraft Wrapping Paper to wrap your pressies in. Decorate it yourself with pens, pencils or stamps if it is a little too plain for your taste. Again if kept carefully it could be reused several times.
Other ideas are to wrap in fabric, or cotton gift bags, both of which can be washed and used over and over again.
Composting is the best way to dispose of your old Brussel Sprout peelings, teabags and apple cores. Did you know you can compost hair too?
Give the whole family a Christmas present which will help them to recycle; get a composter if you don’t already have one. Evengreener have a good selection.
To be as eco-friendly as possible, serve locally produced, seasonal food and drink which have travelled as few food miles as possible. Choose organic where possible.
In most parts of the UK, leftover food scraps can now be put into a waste food bin for collection. for a really eco start to the new year ask Santa to bring you a Bokashi Bin where you can compost every single scrap of your own food waste.
Try to recycle as much of the packaging that the gifts come in. It can be tempting to stick some in the wheelie bin if the recycling bin is full, but save it and deposit it at a recycling centre. Remember though don’t make a special car journey - many supermarkets and car parks have collection centres, so combine it with another trip out.
If you are able to put extra recycling it in a separate box for collection where you live, I suggest that you write on the box 'recycling', as one year the refuse collectors took our box of carefully collected paper and card before the recycling collection arrived.........
For many years shops and supermarkets in the UK collected Christmas cards for recycling, however none of the big chains offer this service any more. It is now recommended that you put your greetings cards into your houshold recycling.
Do remove any parts with glitter, embellishments etc. and put those parts in your normal household waste.
Better still, send eCards or make a donation to charity in lieu of sending cards.
Most local councils offer recycling facilities for real Christmas trees. The trees are chipped and used to produce compost, so don’t just leave it in the garden looking dejected.
You can usually find details of your council’s scheme from their website and many will advertise collection points in leaflets or local newspapers.
Here are some more ways to recycle your Christmas tree.
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