Christmas - keep it eco, keep it simple!

This isn't going to be a normal Christmas - corona virus has put paid to that. And with strain on many household budgets, it's a great opportunity for us all to appreciate that less is more when it comes to gifts. So get out the brown paper and the biodegradable glitter, don't buy more food than Bruce Bogtrotter could eat, and remember to compost ALL your peelings

By Abby Trow
Make Gingerbread Men as a simple gift for neighbours

Christmas doesn't have to be miserably frugal this year, but we can try not to generate too much waste that will end up in landfill sites. So we're being urged not to overbuy food, to compost food scraps, and to use wrapping paper that isn't covered with plastic or glitter because then it becomes unrecyclable. Think about potted real tree because you can use it again next year (small can be just as beautiful as a 7ft beast..) and when it comes to decorations, go for baubles made from wood, felt wool, cardboard or indeed glass...anything but plastic! 

Traditionally, Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate indulgence and excess. Unfortunately, the festive season can also have a serious impact on the environment, with increased food waste, unrecycled gift wrap and paper waste, and increased electricity usage all taking their toll. 
 
But, there are ways we can celebrate heartily and sustainably so here are some top tips on having a more eco-friendly Christmas this year. 
 
Buy a potted real Christmas tree
 
The debate around real v artificial trees centres around chopping down trees for a 12 days of interior delight or buying a non-recyclable synthetic tree that can be used time and again. Real Christmas trees are, of course, stunning when dressed to the nines, but while they can be recycled as an energy source, many do end up in landfilll after the festive season is over and landfill waste produces huge quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas. If you love the look of a real spruce but don’t want to contribute to the landfill waste, consider opting for a pot-grown version instead. This way, you'll still have a beautiful tree with that fresh, festive smell, but it will continue to thrive during the coming year if you water it regularly and transfer it to a larger pot as it grows. And that way you can use it again next Christmas, though you may to be prune it a bit before bringing it in. Alternatively plant it out in the garden if you have space. 
decorations made from wood, wool or pine cones are far preferable to new plastic ones
Real trees need NOT to end up in landfill..check your council's disposal policy

 

 

Dried lemon slices.. innovative tree decorations. www.pumpkinbeth.com
Artificial trees are usually made from plastic, but they can be used year in year out
If you haven't already got one, buy a counter top food waste composting bin
Council tree recycling
 
Most local councils run recycling centres for real Christmas trees after the festive period, and some provide a collection service, so check your local council's website for more details. 
 
Use energy saving and low-waste Christmas decorations 
 
With so much concern about plastic waste ending up in the oceans and damaging sealife, there's a real impetus to reduce our use of the stuff. We're getting more creative about tree decorations, since plastic baubles tend to be manufactured in China and shipped over to the UK, meaning they have a large carbon footprint. So why not get creative with slices of dried lemons and painted pine cones or hang individual chocolates from tree branches. Find a selection of ideas on Crafting a Green World for more deck the halls inspiration. 
 
If you're not already a convert, another simple way to cut down on your environmental impact - and your utility bill - is to festoon your tree, mantelpiece, bannisters etc with LED lights, which offer a brilliant white light or more intense colours than the old incandescent fairy lights - which, incidentally, did used to put a strain on the National Grid over Christmas! A string of incandescent lights runs at 40 watts, while LED versions use just 5 watts, so LED fairy lights are much more eco-friendly than their former incandescent selves.
 
If you're not feeding the the five thousand, don't buy food for five thousand!
Go crazy for lights thanks for new generation LED fairly strings which use minimal amounts of electr
Say no to food waste
 
With UK households apparently throwing out the equivalent of two million tonnes of turkey last Christmas, this is by far the worst time of year for food wastage. We can do our bit to curb food waste by planning our Christmas shop carefully, so we buy only as much we need. 
 
And Christmas Day leftovers make wonderful Boxing Day bubble and squeak, so don't throw anything away. As this extensive selection of Christmas leftover ideas from All Recipes just goes to show, with a little creativity, we can use almost all uneaten festive food to make stews, soups, curries and pies — all more interesting than turkey sandwiches.
 
A counter top compost bin is also essential for the eco cook. Line with a biodegradable corn starch bag, fill it with fruit and veg peelings and scraps from plates and our local councils will use the waste to make compost for its parks.
 
Recycle or re-use wrapping paper 
 
You probably do this anyway..but nonethless Brits are expected to throw away or burn the equivalent of 83 km2 of wrapping paper this year, according to Envirowaste. All this waste is unnecessary and lots of wrapping paper can be easily recycled. So after the Christmas morning unwrapping frenzy has subsided, take the time to reduce waste by sorting out the recycling. 
 
Remember not all gift wrap can be recycled - qrapping with shiny or holographic finishes is actually made from metallised plastic film, which isn't currently suitable for recycling. If in any doubt about whether a piece of gift wrap can be recycled, try the scrunch test: simply scrunch the paper into a ball in your hand and if it remains scrunched up, it can be recycled, but if it springs back into shape, then it's likely made from metallised plastic. But, there's no need to throw this sort of wrapping paper away. Instead, put it aside, as you can shred it and use it as protective stuffing for next year's gifts.