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Have a Merry Green Christmas

 Merry Green Christmas from us

In this festive season of giving and sharing, let’s spare a thought for our long-suffering planet. Let’s reduce the environmental impact of a season that can easily descend into waste, debt and stress with a few quick and easy changes to the celebrations.

Here are some tips for a ‘Green Christmas’:

1. Gift-giving - shift the gift-centric nature of Christmas celebrations without eliminating the tradition of exchanging presents altogether.
  • Many gifts are really gestures of thoughtfulness. Give without taking from the planet with gifts such as a spa voucher, concert ticket, collectibles, homemade edibles.
  • Reduce the number of gifts by using the ‘gift-go-round’ method – everyone need not buy a gift for everyone else.
  • Chose local – buy from craft fairs and artisan shops
  • Chose gifts from recycled sources
  • Give battery-free gifts. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard.
  • Re-gift with a clear conscience – keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful. But note that re-gifting has to be done carefully without offending the original giver.
2. Gift wrapping - In the UK we collectively throw away 226,800 miles of wrapping paper, enough to stretch nine times around the world!
  • Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper made using fibres such as hemp, or paper using recycled content
  •   Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper which is difficult to recycle as it wrinkles and creases easily when the gift is being unwrapped.
  • Reuse gift wrap where possible. Do not write the name of the person on the paper.
  • Use tape sparingly, or not at all and if you use ribbon to finish of your wrapping, you may not need to use tape. By not using tape, more of the wrapping paper can be reclaimed, and it's easier for the recipient to save the wrapping for reuse. 
  • Choose alternatives to commercial gift wrap such as comic strips from old paper for kids’ gifts, old calendars, maps, posters, brown paper grocery bags with decorated stamps, your children’s easel roll with all the creative splash marks etc.
  • Don’t forget non-paper options such as the wrapping itself is the gift e.g. cute tea towel, reusable bag, soft scarf, etc.
3.  Christmas Tree  - choose the more sustainable choice  - a live tree. Although plastic trees are reusable, they are made from PVC and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. And often they are discarded too when repeated use make them less attractive, landing in landfill where their plastic content make them last forever!
  • Live trees on the other hand are renewable resource that really smell like Christmas  and,
  • replanted regularly on tree farms
  •  almost ninety percent recycled into  mulch
  • usually grown and sold locally , saving both transportation costs and added air pollution
  • potted trees can be reused for 2 to 3 years without having to plant or re-pot the tree. Re-pot and replant for longer use.

4. Christmas Cards - No doubt store-bought cards are rich, elegant and expensive but a waste of a huge amount of natural resources for a throw-away item. Home-made cards may not be professional looking but are personal, just as appreciated and making them can be a fun activity  - resources include last year calendar with large colourful images on heavy paper, children’s’ artwork.

5. Food – waste not and want not! Recent figures suggest the UK chucks out the equivalent of two million turkeys, five million Christmas puddings and a truly shocking 74 million mince pies.

  • Cook once, eat twice.
  • Carefully plan what you buy, using leftovers and freezing table scraps.
  • Buy locally-grown, organic food, from your local farmers' shop or market where possible.
  • Try a Vegan Christmas Dinner for a change.

6.  Christmas Lighting and Decoration.

Reduce the size of your outdoor lighting display. 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. 
  • Outdoor Mini-lights will also save energy.
  • Turn off tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting at bedtime. It's simply a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone's gone to sleep. Use timers so that you don’t have to remember to run them off.
  • Go for Christmas candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment.
  • Use natural items for decorations such as pine cones, twigs, berries, sprigs of evergreen plants and oranges to create wreaths, centrepieces and simple ornaments.

7. Heating - Turn down thethermostat by one degree. What with a house full of people and the oven on full pelt, your house will be warmer than usual. Plus, you'll not only save carbon and money but it's a good excuse to don your most outrageous Christmas jumper.

9. Hosting a party? Using reusable will definitely be more eco-friendly. But you do not want to spend your Christmas in front of the sink, use 100 percent biodegradable and compostable party ware such as Cornware. Not only is Cornware a friend of the planet, it is of high quality, leach-proof, non-toxic, freezable and microwaveable tableware and comes in beautiful party colours at a low cost.

Have a Merry Green Christmas, from us at Element UK.


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