During the season of celebration we need to show extra care for the environment. Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet. A little effort and imagination we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season. Forget about the shops, the adverts and the corporate claims on Christmas – let’s do it in a personal way! Here are some tips we use during our Christmas retreats at Newbold Trust to make xmas more sustainable. (for more information about our christmas retreats click here – www.newboldtrust.org/christmas-holidays/ )
1.Buy Less, Buy Smarter Tiny things can make big changes. When you buy something you should ask you a couple of simple question which comes from permaculture ethic: Does it take care of peoples needs? Does it take care with the planet? Is this fair? To find out more http://permacultureprinciples.com/ethics/ These simple questions will help you to buy smarter and fairer for people and the planet.
2. Connect with Nature
Connecting with nature means more than simply getting a little fresh air. Rather, it entails reconsidering our individuality, and recalibrating our wider human and ecological relationships. A fuller connection with nature is an essential part of a good life, allowing us to temper envy and see ourselves from a proper perspective.
Newbold Trust is running for Xmas two different programmes to help you to connect with nature http://newboldtrust.org/christmas-holidays/
The Uk uses more than 220,000 miles of wrapping paper during xmas! (see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8964837/How-Britain-bins-227000-miles-of-Christmas-paper.html ) This is why it is so important to talk about ways to reduce waste when decorating presents. Here are some tips to help reduce waste, recycle and reuse over the christmas period.
One solution is to be creative when wrapping presents; use magazine clippings from around your house, photographs from old albums, old newspapers, last years calendar can all make very creative and attractive decoration for gifts. http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/creative-gift-wrap.html
4. Choose a live tree Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Plastic trees are made of petroleum products (PVC), and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.
A six foot tall artificial tree produces 40kg of emissions if thrown on a landfill, compared to a real tree which only creates 3.5kg of emissions if it’s chipped or incinerated.
Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, sving both transportation costs and added air pollution.
5. Christmas cards Buy recycled paper (not plastic) cards without lots of decorations, otherwise these cannot be recycled. Around 744 million cards are sent each Christmas and if all these were made from recycled paper, it would save the equivalent of 248,000 trees.
Alternatively send an e-card; there are lots of websites which allow you to do this for free. And remember you can reuse cards as gift tags next year!
6. Lower the impact of holiday lighting
Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays. A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive, and more appropriate in the ‘season of giving’. Saving electricity is also a way of giving, since conserving resources benefits everyone.
Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting
LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
7. Eat Organic Food is a key part of peoples Christmas period so it is important to consider choices that are not harmful to the planet. Around 30% of our individual carbon footprint is made up of our food choices, so what we eat this Christmas is the single most important way we can reduce our environmental impact.
Choosing local organic produce can help support local farmers and provide food that is nutritious and free from harmful pesticides. Buying organic food also helps support improved biodiversity (See https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6496-organic-farming-boosts-biodiversity/)
Organic farms help keep carbon in the soil and therefor reducing the carbon footprint. ‘On average 22% more birds, 75% more plant species, 50% more pollinators such as bees’ (Journal of Applied Ecology Vol 51 2014)
8. Eat Less Meat and Fish. 20kg is roughly the carbon footprint of a single Christmas dinner. This means that the country as a whole will produce around 51,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from food alone. Its therefor really important to consider how we can reduce our carbon footprint with our eating habits over the festive period.
Eating less meat and fish over the xmas period can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint with The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimating the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
9. Buy Local Support local crafts, food producers and businesses by buying gifts from local owners. Local business can help you find the perfect decorations, gifts and food for Christmas dinner. Supporting local business builds community and resilience.
10. Make your own gifts, cards and decorations Making your own food and decorations brings people together and brings a personal tough to the Christmas period. Craft gifts can be some of the most precious and cherished gifts of all at xmas.
Find out how to integrate crafts into your xmas: http://www.mookychick.co.uk/how-to/arts-and-crafts/make-cheap-christmas-gift-ideas.php
For more information about how we implement these Xmas tips into our lives why not experience it by join us this Christmas.