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12 tips for a greener Christmas

PUBLISHED: 10:53 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 14:21 02 November 2015

Alternative Christmas tree, £31 www.sistersguild.co.uk

Alternative Christmas tree, £31 www.sistersguild.co.uk

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Tara Greaves finds fun ways to enjoy the festive season without it costing the Earth

Far from being anti-Christmas, being more Earth-friendly is about getting back to what is important, rather than what for many has become a time when we spend more, eat more and waste more than we should.

This year, why not make a few simple changes to make more out of less? Here are 12 ideas to get you started:

Stop and think

Take a moment to think about what Christmas really means to you. Why not plan your festive season – from the presents to the food – to help cut down on waste and stress?

Christmas cards

We send more than 1 billion cards in the UK each year simply for them to be thrown away. Instead, you could donate the cost of cards and postage to your favourite charity. Or, if you still like to send cards, there are greener ways to do so. Buy FSC Certified charity cards, preferably without glitter to make them easier to recycle.

If you have children or grandchildren put them to work. Hand and foot printing is a fun and easy activity to do together, and makes thoughtful festive keepsakes.

Gifts

It is the age old question – what do you get someone who already has everything? The answer: Nothing. Spread the love and buy a present for someone else in your loved one’s name. Many charities now offer this option. If you do want to buy a gift look for local handmade products.

Decorations

Is it more eco friendly to have a real Christmas tree or a synthetic one. The consensus seems to be that the greenest option is to buy a UK grown tree with roots so if you have a garden you can plant it out. But you can reuse a synthetic tree each year.

Wrapping

Walk down your street on Christmas morning and you will see wheelie bins overflowing with torn wrapping paper. There are less wasteful alternatives, such as using string or ribbon instead of tape so that everything can be reused. Or why not buy or make your own reuseable bag to put presents in?

Food

A little bit of planning goes a long way, saving you time and money, and cutting waste. Make a list of the meals you need to cook over the festive season and their ingredients. Ideally buy local and seasonal – produce should cost less as it is more plentiful and you’ll cut down on food miles and help support local business.

Waste

An extra three quarters of a million tonnes of waste is generated in the UK during Christmas and New Year and while some of this can be recycled, it is far better to reduce and then reuse where possible.

Entertainment

Instead of the traditional slump in front of the television after the festive meal, get up and out. Plan a walk around the neighbourhood or local beauty spot. If it’s too cold outside, play some old fashioned parlour games which are fun and do not require any energy other than your own.

Transport

Whether for shopping trips or travelling to loved ones you can make a difference (in cost and carbon) with a little bit of planning. If public transport is not an option, perhaps you can car-share with relatives and friends.

Work

How many fairy lights get left on in the office over Christmas after everyone has left for the Christmas break? Take responsibility for turning off those in your department.

Energy

The one good thing about novelty Christmas jumpers is that it means you can turn down the heating. Also, when buying presents for children, try to steer clear of battery operated ones (which might seem easier said than done).

New Year Resolutions

Despite the best of intentions the pledges we make on January 1 are usually long forgotten by the time February comes around. This year, set some simple attainable goals, such as walking more, enjoying Meat Free Mondays or donating time to a worthy cause.

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