Over the holidays everyone likes to have a good celebration. Unfortunately, with all that extra eating, drinking and present-buying, this tends to lead to a lot of rubbish, we produce over 3 million tonnes of waste over the festive season. This includes 1 billion greeting cards, 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper, 750 million extra glass bottles and containers, and 500 million extra drinks cans. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some tips on how to have a greener holiday break.
What do you get for somebody who has everything?
An experience. Why not take them out to dinner, or buy them theatre tickets? Not only can you give them a pleasant evening and a lasting memory, but it won’t end up sitting around the house, cluttering up the place, or even ending up in the bin….
Alternatively, you could buy some trees or an animal for a community in the Third World, on their behalf. Oxfam and various other organisations provide the opportunity to pay to plant trees, or buy animals for communities in the Developing World. Or you could sponsor an animal on their behalf.
Buy eco-friendly gifts
Buy gifts made from recycled material, or gifts produced by local craftsmen. If you are buying perfume or cosmetics, buy those made from natural ingredients, or those that haven’t been tested on animals.
Avoid over-packaged goods
Where you have the option, buy presents and food with as little packaging as possible.
Use reusable shopping bags
Reduce the number of plastic bags floating around your house by using cloth shopping bags/rucksacks/Bags for Life. Not only will you be helping the environment by doing this, but cloth bags are much stronger, and better able to support all those presents you are buying. As if those weren’t reasons enough, Tesco is now awarding Green Club Points for people who don’t take new plastic bags.
Buy a sustainable Christmas tree
Some live Christmas trees can be replanted after Christmas. Why not plant yours in your garden after Christmas is over? It can then be dug up next year, or decorated and left in the garden. Alternatively, you could buy a reusable plastic tree.
Buy mechanical toys
If you’re buying any toys this Christmas, try and avoid ones requiring batteries, which will eventually end up in the waste stream. Not only will you be reducing waste, but you’ll be saving energy as well: a double win! If you do buy battery-powered presents, put rechargeable batteries in them.
Use crockery rather than plastic or paper plates and cups
If you’re having a party, think about using reusable plates and cups, so that they don’t need to be thrown away afterwards. If you don’t want to buy that many items, there are a number of places where you can hire them for the evening.
Buy presents that will last
When you’re buying presents, think about buying things that will last, rather than needing to be replaced after a few weeks, when it falls apart. That way, people will remember your generosity for longer. If this will cost more, why not club together with a friend or relative?
Reuse wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is often still in good condition after it has been used. Why not save it up and reuse it next year?
When travelling home for Christmas, why not travel by train or by bus? It is often as quick and as cheap as flying, if not cheaper and quicker.
For further tips, check out this great blog by Transition cofounder Rob Hopkins On delivery by drone, vinyl and our month of “stuff”…
And for the American’s among us, this graphic showing where all the holiday waste ends up in the USA (unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be one for the UK)…