Green is the new white

PUBLISHED: 11:45 01 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:23 20 February 2013

Green is the new white

Green is the new white

A white Christmas is no longer what people are dreaming of – this year it is green all the way. Environmental expert Tara Greaves shares her 12 top tips...

Going green

Tis the season to be jolly so why not extend the sense of goodwill beyond all men and show the planet some love and attention too? While Christmas is often a time for excess, both in terms of how much we spend and what we waste, it does not have to be that way. From choosing what to eat and give as presents to the type of tree and decorations we pick, it is not about giving things up, just doing things a little differently. Here are 12 ideas to get you started.

Plan ahead

If you start now, not only will you be able to think about your choices, instead of the usual last-minute rush, but you can even make some of your presents. And while some may mock when you have everything finished early, you will be the one sat snug at home on December 24 while they will be fighting the masses at the shops.

Cut back on cards

It is estimated that we send 1.5billion Christmas cards in the UK each year the equivalent of 200,000 trees. Why not tell all your friends that instead of buying cards you are going to make a donation to charity? If you still want to send something, pick cards made from recycled material that do not have glitter on them the glitter can prevent them from being recycled again. Or why not opt for an online e-card?

Oh, Christmas tree

The real vs fake debate rages every year. If you already have an artificial tree then keep using it, but the consensus seems to be if you are able to buy real (ideally from a sustainably-managed producer and with roots so you can plant it afterwards) do so.

Wrapped up in wrapping paper According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) the amount of wrapping paper estimated to be thrown away in the UK at Christmas could stretch around the equator nine times or to the moon if each sheet was laid end to end. Why not make a reusable Christmas sack from unwanted pillowcases or curtains to pop your presents in? Then everyone in the family can have their own special one.

Let there be light

Tinsel, baubles and fairy lights might look pretty, but ultimately they end up in landfill. If you use the same ones year after year, great, but instead of buying new, why not try edible decorations such as Fairtrade chocolate or even gingerbread men. You could always make extra batches for friends as presents.

Give something back

Consider the gift that keeps on giving whether it is a school in a box or a goat, many charities now have a gift giving facility. If you know a family member has a favourite animal, you could always sponsor one in the wild for a year and help protect it. Or, should you want an actual present to hand over, why not think Fairtrade or gifts made locally you could even make your own?

If you do buy items, make sure they are not over packaged and, once the big day is over, think of local charity shops, jumble sales or furniture reuse centres for anything you are not particularly fond of or if you have replaced old for new.

Fight the freeze

Winter proof your home over Christmas with loft and wall insulation, draft excluders and even an energy monitor so you can see what is going on. This will save electricity and money throughout the winter and particularly at Christmas, when we commonly use more energy than at anytime in the year.

Party outfit

If you fancy a new outfit for a Christmas party, why not organise a swishing do? This is where you get all your friends or colleagues together and swap unwanted clothing. It is a chance to get rid of those impulse buys that still have the tags on or items you are fed up with or which no longer fit in exchange for something different.

Be ready to recycle

After reduce and reuse comes recycle. Make sure you are up to speed on what you can and cannot recycle in your area so that as little unwanted waste as possible ends up in landfill.

Food for thought

In the run-up to Christmas, check your freezer and make sure there is room for post-festive leftovers. When buying ingredients, try and buy British or if you are lucky enough to live close to a farmers market, do your shopping there. A lot of places also hold an open Christmas event for people who might be homeless or who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone. Why not buy a little extra to donate?

Compost this Christmas

Some food waste is inevitable, but why not start a compost heap or ask for a wormery for a Christmas present. They come in a range of styles and sizes so there is something to suit every garden or even balcony.

A time of thanksgiving

At the end of it all, remember that Christmas is not about how many presents you give or cards you send. Take some time just to be with family and friends and give thanks for all the good things you are able to enjoy.

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