Recently, there have been some great moves by some of the big shops and supermarkets towards making their products more sustainable. So it seems the perfect time to think about a few ways we can have a Christmas which does less damage to God’s precious earth which was a gift to us – we need to look after it better. Britons bin 108 million rolls of wrapping paper, throw away 54 million platefuls of food, and fill almost 100 million black bags with packaging from toys and gifts.
Advent calendars – make or buy a re-usable one. (Remember the days when we didn’t need a chocolate reward?)
Decorations – most of us already re-use the same ones for years and they become much loved family favourites. If you need new ones try making them, especially lovely if you use fresh foliage or biscuits!
Lights – if possible use solar powered lights and/or have them on a timer. LED lights use 80% less energy – if every household in the UK swapped a string of incandescent lights for its LED equivalent for the 12 days of Christmas we could save more than 29,000 tonnes of CO2
Christmas Tree – if you already have a plastic one then keep using it for as long as possible. If you buy a real one, make sure it is locally grown and has the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) mark. After Christmas it can be planted if it has roots, recycled at the local recycling centre or chopped up to make a log pile in your garden as a wildlife habitat. Did you know you can rent a Christmas Tree? They are dug up and delivered, then collected in January and replanted!
Candles – choose eco-friendly soy or beeswax rather than paraffin.
Cards – we usually have a communal card at Church, with donations to charity. If you have a computer you can send e-cards for free. If you buy cards, look for forest-friendly or plantable cards impregnated with seeds. Afterwards, recycle you cards in your kerbside collection or in a local shop or turn them into tags or decorations for next year. Avoid anything with glitter or sequins as these are not biodegradable.
Wrapping paper – Look for recycled paper, and avoid foil or glitter types. How about using ribbon or twine instead of sticky-tape which isn’t biodegradable and also makes the paper less recyclable? Gift bags can be re-used for many years with just a new tag. The latest idea is fabric wrap tied with ribbon – really pretty and very re-usable.
Gifts – home-made gifts are really special and personal. If you’re buying gifts, look for Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, FSC or Palm Oil Free. Maybe give a membership, subscription or experience instead? Or perhaps offer a promise of help or a treat for later.
Crackers – there are lots of kits available now to make your own which is great fun and you can personalise the gifts (no plastic) and jokes. Afterwards, recycle the card and reuse the ribbon. If you buy crackers look for reusable or linen ones.
Electricity Usage – this increases hugely over the festive period. We need to carefully consider our usage and maybe get a Smart Meter.
Food – David Attenborough and others have raised our awareness of the devastating link between meat production and climate change. If you can’t give up your Christmas dinner, at least free range, organic and locally produced is kinder in every sense. Buying less will reduce waste, and of course we all love left-overs!