Nigel's Top 10 tips for a Green, Sustainable and Eco Friendly Christmas
Have a Merry Green Christmas Here's my top 10 Green Christmas tips that'll help you to save money, reduce your Christmas carbon footprint and have a more eco friendly and sustainable noel.
Remember To Turn Off Your Fairy Lights
Ever since I found out that 16% of household electricity is wasted by leaving TVs, Hi-fi's and other appliances on standby – costing each of us an average of £85 per year – I make sure I turn things off when I’m not using them.
In general lighting accounts for 8% of household electricity, and 100-string Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 60 balloons - so make sure you get energy saving light bulbs for your house, and at Xmas, try these outdoor solar powered christmas fairy lights for some winter sparkle without adding to your bills or carbon footprint.
An estimated 1.7 billion Christmas cards are sent each year in Britain, the equivalent of 200,000 trees, and around 1 million Christmas cards are thrown away every year. I try to send recycled Christmas cards, but you could make your own, or send texts or e-cards instead. After the big day, make sure your Christmas cards don't go to waste – take them to a Woodland Trust recycling point. I also like to buy recycled Christmas cards from charities and donate up to 20% to less fortunate people at the same time.
Recycled Wrapping Paper
It's estimated that 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper end up in our rubbish bins each year, that's enough to wrap up Guernsey, so make sure that you use recycled wrapping paper, and try to wrap presents with ribbon or string instead of sticky tape. Try our designer recycled wrapping paper, by Lisa Jones.
Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residues so neither do your health or the environment any good. Soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based candles are better because they biodegrade, are smoke-free, and so more eco friendly. You can buy some: here
Deck The Halls With Real Holly
Instead of spending money on artificial Christmas decorations that won't biodegrade, let nature decorate your home. House decorations can be made from organic, recycled and scrap materials. Try popcorn, dough, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, holly, seasonal berries, ivy and evergreen branches – once you have finished with them, you can put them in the composter. You can also get Christmas decorations made from recycled CDs and computer parts from us!
If you've been wondering which is better, the simple answer is that real trees are the more eco friendly choice. Although artificial trees last for many years they are made from metal and derivatives of PVC, which requires large amounts of energy to make, and also creates by-products such as lead which can be harmful to both the environment and human health. The average life of an artificial tree is just 6 years and given that they are not naturally biodegradable they will potentially pollute a landfill site for many years to come. Most artificial trees sold in the UK are now made in Taiwan and China and so have additional energy costs associated with transport.
Real trees are carbon neutral, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as they grow as they will emit when burnt or left to decompose. They are also a wildlife habitat and a naturally renewable resource, and generally feel much nicer in your home. They can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year. In 2006, six million Christmas trees took pride of place in British homes and offices. Of these only 10% were recycled and fewer than 5% planted to be re-used next year, so...
Tree Buying Tips
Buy from a small-scale sustainable grower and/or make sure the tree has Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation, you can go to www.soilassociation.org/christmas for a list of producers. And choose a tree with roots so it can be replanted. If replanting isn’t an option most local councils run Christmas tree recycling schemes. Or this year, why not start growing your own?
Be Battery Wise
Families can get through a lot of batteries, particularly at Christmas. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, don't biodegrade and are difficult to recycle. Instead use rechargeable ones or try these AA size USB rechargeable batteries. By opening the cap and plugging into a USB connector, you can recharge them pretty much anywhere there's a USB socket. You'll never have to search for a charger again.
Buy An Organic Turkey
10 million turkeys are eaten every Christmas. If you can, try to make sure it has been reared in humane conditions. Organic turkeys taste better too. I try to buy my Christmas food locally, shopping at farmers markets or buying direct from the farmer is far cheaper than buying organic in the supermarket. Think of the benefits – the taste of chemical-free food, the reduction in food miles and CO2 emissions, and reduced dependence on oil. Buying locally produced food also boosts rural jobs.
Recycle Your Unwanted Presents
Unfortunately everyone receives at least one unwanted gift at Christmas. I often recycle my unwanted presents to charities. Local hospitals and hospices are often very pleased to receive unwanted smellies to give to patients. You could try giving them away - and swap them for other people's unwanted gifts!
Give a Charity or Environmentally Friendly Gift
Sponsor an animal or give a membership to a charity or environmental organisation for Christmas. Or of course, you could buy an eco friendly gift from Nigel's Eco Store!
With a little planning anyone can give presents that are thoughtful, original and make a difference to the environment too.