How to Have a Greener Christmas – Tips for Ethical Festivities

Christmas is a time of happy self-indulgence. But how can you make sure your fun doesn’t come with a heavy environmental and ethical burden? Here are some top tips for having a greener, more ethical Christmas.

Are plastic trees greener than real ones?

Plastic trees are often made in countries or factories with dubious or unknown Fair Trade credentials. They travel a great many miles to reach Britain and they’re usually about as far from recyclable as it gets. A real tree, in contrast, is completely natural, helps remove carbon from the atmosphere, rots down into super compost when chopped up, makes a useful hiding place or home for wildlife when left to rot quietly in a corner of the garden and are grown close to home. Alternatively, buy a growing, live tree with roots and plant it out after Christmas for long term environmental benefits.

Whether it’s cut or alive, make sure your tree comes from a sustainable source.

Minimising food waste

Food waste is shocking and Christmas is one of the worst offenders. Plan carefully in advance, going as far as mapping out every meal over the holidays. Buy exactly what you need and no more, factoring in treats without going too madly overboard. Buy a smaller turkey, one that’ll see you through a couple of generous meals. And eat every scrap of it, making soup out of the bits and bobs. Hand over the titbits to your pets to make short work of, consign the remains to your local urban foxes or feed it to the birds. Gulls will eat almost anything!

Make bubble and squeak using leftover veg. And religiously compost all of your veg peelings.

Rechargeable batteries

Batteries are awful things, full of toxic chemicals that degrade slowly and are difficult to recycle.  Buy rechargeable batteries and a charger to minimise the environmental cost of battery-run children’s toys, and buy wind-up toys and gadgets whenever possible.

Making your wardrobe work harder and greener

Christmas is a great time to turf out your wardrobe, get rid of the things you never wear and stash your Christmas items, giving them plenty of space so they’re not crushed.

T shirts make brilliant dusters, often much better than bought cleaning cloths, perfect for washing floors, dusting, DIY, cleaning shoes… you name it. And they last forever. Charity shops always welcome good quality clothing as do clothing banks, the contents of which are often exported to poor countries where people genuinely appreciate them. Many towns have shoe banks, too.  Dress agencies are perfect of you want to make a few pounds from unwanted designer gear. Or have a clothes swap with friends and family – it’s great fun!

Ethical Christmas presents

There are some really beautiful, useful, stylish and decorative ethical Christmas gifts around these days, more this year than ever.  Your best chance of tracking them down is online rather than the high street, where ethical goods tend to be mixed up with the ordinary stuff. Make yourself a cuppa or crack open a bottle, relax in the warmth and dry with your computer or smartphone and do your Xmas shopping in comfort!

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