Ten ways to have a greener Christmas celebration

Christmas jumpers, photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville
Christmas jumpers, photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Christmas is a time of a lot of food, travel and gifts. But also a time that has a heavy impact on the climate and produces millions of tons of waste each year.

As awareness about climate change grows, many people are aiming to cut waste and enjoy an eco-friendly celebration. Below are ten ways to reduce emissions and waste at Christmas.

1. Ditch the Christmas jumper
They usually contain plastic and are often only worn once or twice. Those who cannot resist the trend are advised to re-use last year’s jumper or buy second-hand.

2. Try not to drive or fly
Driving or flying home for Christmas? It could add a load to your festive emissions. Taking the train or bus is a lower-impact way to travel than a car or plane. Those who cannot avoid driving could consider car-pooling.

3. Get a real Christmas tree
A plastic tree has to be used for about ten years to be greener. Get a real, preferably locally grown, Christmas tree. And make sure that you don’t just throw the tree away, but recycle or replant it. There are places where you can bring your tree to where they recycle it for you. Renting a tree is also an option nowadays.

4. Beware green-washed consumerism
Green products create a “warm glow” for users, according to a study by Canadian researchers. Spending money on green products might make consumers feel quite a bit better about their purchases, but consider whether green branding isn’t being used to sell you unnecessary items. That said, if you really have to buy unnecessary things, always go for the greener version.

5. Deck the halls
Twinkling lights with LED bulbs are more energy-efficient. And where you can, try using solar powered outdoor lights. Anti-waste groups suggest re-using decorations and swapping flimsy plastic home decor for compostable greenery.

6. Go for a vegan meal
Vegan food is a major trend and has a lighter climate impact. Switching from a turkey Christmas dinner to a nut roast with all the trimmings can reduce the meal’s emissions by more than half. Scroll on the internet for delicious vegan options. If you’re going out to dinner, see where you can go for a vegan Christmas dinner on Happy Cow. And eating out or in, don’t waste food. Take a doggy back and use leftovers for lunch the next day.

7. Pull your own crackers
Store-bought crackers are a significant source of waste. For a greener alternative, make your own crackers using old toilet roll tubes and add home-made gifts.

8. Reduce unwanted gifts
Give experiences instead of things, or switch to a family ‘secret Santa’ system where people only buy gifts for one or two others – limiting the strain on the environment.

9. Wrap it up
Try to avoid gifts that come in excessive packaging and ditch glittery wrapping paper, cards and advent-calendars as they cannot be recycled. Instead, wrap gifts recycled paper or get creative with a newspaper.

10. Get talking
Climate experts say mass awareness and lobbying is needed to bring change. Bringing up the issue over Christmas dinner might raise awareness – or at least provide a lively debate.

Source: Reuters

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