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This year, we have been thinking a lot about how to be more eco-friendly. We know that we can turn off lights when we leave the room, walk rather than taking the car where possible, and avoid products which use a lot of plastic packaging. But what can we do at Christmas time to be better for the environment? Here are some tips. Shop local Every product which is imported, from your presents to your tree to your food on the table, has a carbon footprint. If something has travelled overseas then it needs to either fly or come by truck over a ferry, neither of which are great options. In order to reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas, you can try to shop locally. This will also help to grow your community and support local businesses, which is a great bonus. While you might not have farms supplying everything in your locale, you can at least choose things which have been produced within your country. Choose your tree Make sure that you are getting your tree from an eco-friendly source if you are buying a real one. You should be able to check how the tree is grown and whether or not it is done in a sustainable way. If you are going the plastic route, buy a tree for life. Don’t throw it away after one year – plan to keep it for 20 or 30. This will offset the carbon cost of making the tree because of the amount of use that you get out of it. When you do get rid of your tree, try to recycle it or donate it to charity rather than just throwing it in the bin. Send green If you have gifts that must be shipped out, then make sure that you do it the green way with PACK & SEND. They have practices in place which mean that your carbon footprint will be reduced by using their services as opposed to a postal service. Think about the way that you package your gifts, too. Do you really need all those layers of cardboard and bubble wrap, or would a smaller parcel work just as well to protect the gifts? Change your bulbs Make sure that your fairy lights aren’t draining your electric bill and putting a strain on the environment! Pick out a set with more eco-friendly bulbs and both will be improved. LED fairy lights are a good choice as they take less electricity to run and don’t cause any heat, which makes them less of a fire hazard. It’s also fun to sit with only the lights of the tree in the evening and turn off your main lights, which will save a lot of energy! Try to watch your energy usage in general – could you turn off the television and play board games together, for example? Remove food waste When doing your shopping before Christmas, try to be more realistic about what you actually need to buy. So much food is wasted every year because we make such big feasts which are not actually eaten. When you have vegetable leftovers that can’t be used, try to turn them into compost or feed them to a pet. Eat up leftovers where possible. If you can’t get rid of all of your food, you may be able to find a nearby shelter which takes spare food donations. It’s easier than you think to have a green Christmas. Just think about reducing waste and shopping local, and the rest will fall into place!
chloehashemi posted a blog entry in chloehashemi's BlogIt’s almost that time of year again- cue the mince pies, tinsel, personalised gifts, chirpy carolling, and most importantly, the endless string of decorated Christmas trees. But at what a cost? In an age where we have the appropriate knowledge and technology to investigate the real impact of nationwide gorging and extravagance, shouldn’t we care about what the festive season does to our environment? Hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees are cut down each year, each to fulfil their destinies of being draped in tinsel, adorned with the angel or star of your choice, and housing the piles of gifts kids each year. Many opt for an artificial festive symbol instead, all with the misconception that Christmas trees are leading to deforestation and further negative environmental impacts. In actual fact, Gary Chastegner, professor of plant pathology at Washington State University has stated that "most Christmas trees are grown as crop and replanted, so it is really no different than harvesting corn". Chastagner goes on to explain that a natural reseeding takes place in forests, and permits are distributed in areas where the trees need to be thinned. The National Christmas Tree Association have stressed that using real pine and fir trees is actually a more green thing to do than purchasing an artificial Christmas tree for your living room. According to research, most fake Christmas trees are only used for 6-9 years and then disposed of. Keeping the plastic tree for longer than this period would eventually be thrown away into a landfill. These trees, unlike real trees, are not recyclable or biodegradable. In addition to this, in 2010, The New York Times reported that fake trees usually contain a harmful chemical called polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Essentially, just manufacturing these trees can be harmful to the environment. Recent years have introduced the most ethical choice of all. You can now ‘rent’ your Christmas tree for the festive period. This means that you can choose the Christmas tree of your choice, which comes with its own sustainable root system. This tree is delivered to your door (which saves you time and money on travelling to purchase the tree yourself), and then picked up at a date which suits you, early in the New Year. The tree is then returned to the soil, and grown on for the new year. If you really are trying to limit your carbon footprint this Christmas, don’t let your efforts stop at your choice of tree. Make sure you opt for LED fairy lights for example. These new style lights help save energy and money. What is more, their relatively cool heat will make your tree less of a fire hazard too. This may sound like stating the obvious, but don’t forget to recycle after you’re done with celebrating for the year. Figures suggest that a mere 10% of Christmas trees are recycled for wood chipping and compost each year in the UK. In our capital alone, almost 1 million trees are just thrown away each January.