Treat the planet this Christmas
As we rush headlong towards Christmas – they seem to come round more quickly every year don’t they? – I’ve put together some hints and tips to make your Christmas more sustainable.
Personally, I love a bit of shine and gloss in my Christmas decorations, the brighter the better. But there are issues with the plastic, glitter covered decorations that abound in the shops.
Glitter looks amazing but most of the time it is made out of micro plastic. It has been banned in the EU but not in the UK. There are eco-friendly versions available though, so do look out for those if you want that added sparkle.
The greenest option is obviously to reuse what you have. I’d always recommend reuse before buying new.
If you do want to buy new, try and find things that have been made from sustainable materials – often these can be found at Christmas fairs but there are more to be found online now too.
Or why not have a go at making some festive decorations. Dried orange slices (for indoors only) look and smell amazing. And if you store them in an airtight container, they’ll still be ok for future years.
If you’re crafty you could make some decorations, stars or garlands out of paper or salt dough
Collect pine cones while you’re out and they can be used as garlands, table decorations, gift tokens and lots more.
Approximately £42m of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown away each year. If you don’t get something you love this year, please think about donating them to charity shops instead of throwing them away.
We all love surprises, but it does make sense to check with people what they would like from you. This way, there’s less waste and your loved ones will receive something they love and find useful.
Think about food and drink gifts (locally sourced of course!) or experiences such as theatre or dining out vouchers for those difficult to buy for people on your list.
You could even make a pact with your family to only give recycled, home-made or sustainable presents.
Did you know around 7 million tons of food is thrown away at Christmas. Try putting together a plan for the Christmas period so you know what you’re going to make and what you need to buy.
There’s lots of information on main supermarket websites or BBC Good Food on planning Christmas meals and using up leftovers. Using frozen veg can help cut down on waste - they are as nutritious – in fact sometimes more so – than fresh. They are picked and frozen really quickly so precious nutrients aren’t lost.
Parties and family get-togethers go hand in hand with Christmas. If you’re hosting one, try to cut down on waste by not overloading the table – you could ask guests to bring a dish each to cut down on waste – they could take home any leftovers as well.
Avoid single use plastic tablecloths, go for washable fabric ones or good quality wipe clean ones that you can keep and reuse.
Avoid disposable cups, cutlery and plates or try Ecologicofor reusable party kits – they’ll even wash up for you! (for a small fee).
If you’re having a work party, encourage staff to bring in any spare decorations from home rather than buying new. They can take them home again afterwards.
Look for no waste Christmas crackers – these are normally made from recyclable materials (without the plastic, foil, glitter that means they aren’t) and don’t have the plastic prize inside. Or you could make your own, there are loads of make your own kits available. Or you can just use the middle of a toilet roll, an old Christmas card for decoration and make a paper hat.
Oxfam estimates that around 61% of people don’t reuse their Christmas party outfit. Why not have a low waste Christmas dress code – for example, second hand Christmas jumpers, decorated outfits with festive accessories.
If it’s a posh do, ask guests to rent their suits and dresses rather than buy new ones. It could be a chance to be more adventurous than your budget would normally allow.
For more details on Xmas recycling – including how to recycle your real tree, check out the November issue of One Darlington magazine ( https://www.darlington.gov.uk/your-council/news/one-darlington/ ) .
However you spend your Christmas this year, I hope you have a great time and I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.