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Friday, 17 December 2010

10 ways to an Eco Christmas

I had quite a response to the shopping local for Christmas item I did yesterday, so thought I would extend the subject to share with you some eco top tips for Christmas. I know that it isn't rocket science but sometimes it's helpful to see ideas written down to remind us that every little helps (not in a Tesco type way obviously...)

1. Shop Local - as I said yesterday, not only is this activity a pleasure, you are likely to not use the car as much or even walk and you will probably buy things that have travelled a lot less far. On top of these benefits, you will also be supporting your local economy and community in these harsh times.
2. Christmas Tree - ok controversial subject. I still do a real tree and tend to go rooted to use next year. For 3 years this worked great but I have bought new this year as mine looked so rubbish (still in ground for another time). I have bought local though and from a local, sustainable source and I shall shred/compost afterwards. You could buy plastic and it will last for years, but do think about how far it may have travelled and how you might dispose of it after it's past its best.
3. Reused decorations - Although I like the displays of Christmas trees you see in the shops and on TV, it is unthinkable to me that I would go for new decs each year to fulfill a colour scheme - what a waste and frankly I'm just not that coordinated! Added to which I have eager children who want to add their squashed and mangled pieces of artwork to our tree. I make dried orange slice decorations and rings of dried cranberries as well as iced biccies with ribbon - (granted, they tend to last 5 minutes). So get out your old faves each year with a few fresh home made ones and you'll cut down on plastic waste.
4. Gift Wrapping - I think there are ways to make your gifts look fabulous without spending a fortune on stuff that will just go in the bin half way through Christmas Day. Try recycled brown paper and reusable ribbon with old buttons, dried fruit and a charity shop brooch or jewellery finds. Not only is is frugal, it's stylish & unique too.
5. Upcycling - Now this could be tricky - I am not talking about giving a loved one a hideous jumper you got from Aunt Fanny last year - I'm talking reusing a beautiful glass bottle to fill with home made sloe gin or giving an unopened CD to someone who will appreciate it. Maybe you have received something in a great basket which you can reuse to make a local food hamper for Christmas. All these ideas are again, frugal but also they are cutting down on the buying of unwanted rubbish while creating something really special and unique.
6. Turn the heating down - no I'm not bonkers and I don't knit my own sandals, but if you are in the house a lot over the holidays and it's chilly, it is only sensible to turn down the heating by 1 degree and add a jumper. Maybe you can turn radiators down in rooms that you don't use or only sleep in or just light the fire if you are cosying up to an afternoon film. I always go for extrra rugs on the sofa in cold weather too - looks great and is snuggly.
7. Candles - ok so this isn't going to solve global warming in 2 weeks, but make the most of the opportunity to use candles - romantic, cosy & electricity free! For your fairy lights - go for the LED type as it will cut down your energy consumption so you don't have to cut down on the twinkle factor this Christmas.
8. Leave the car at home - to me the Christmas holidays is the perfect time to stay out of my car! I try to avoid extra shopping, trips out and long drives and just stay in and local. You'll save a bit of petrol and it's got to be good for the environment!
9. Rechargeable batteries - this is the perfect time to convert all your batteries to the rechargeable kind as all those new toys and gadgets come down the chimney with the man in red! I know you think they'll be pants - but actually good quality chargers are great and invest in a large one so that you always have some charging while using others. Don't throw out the old kind either - use till they are done and then recycle (local tip centre, Lidl etc).
10. Sort your rubbish - I know it's hectic at Christmas and it is tempting to just sweep the house with a black bin liner but do make every effort to sort our all that wrap and packaging. If you have different bags at the ready before your open gifts or leave an enthusiastic child eco warrior on the job, it'll take no time at all! For bits you are not sure about like polystyrene, visit your local waste/recycling centre after the hols for advice. Staffordshire Moorlands and East Staffs both have award winning recycling services!

So I hope you don't feel lectured at, but have reminded yourself of some little frugal and eco tips for reducing consumption this Christmas! I hope you have a good one!

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