The Christmas countdown has well and truly started.

And with just 23 shopping days left to go (yikes!) we thought it might be a good time to give everyone some tips on planning a Green Christmas.

Sadly, the festive season has a lot to answer for in terms of environmental damage – from the massive increase in discarded carrier bags and wrapping paper to the millions of cards that end up in the dustbin. And don’t forget about the extra electricity we use and the mountains of Christmas trees that get dumped in the New Year.

In short, Christmas is a massive problem for our already over-burdened planet, but if everyone makes a conscious effort to use less and recycle more, it will make a difference.

So, check out our top tips and try to follow as many of them as possible:

1. If you usually post a lot of Christmas cards, could you send online cards to many of your friends instead?  There are some great free cards available online and many include animation, festive music or even a Christmas quiz to get the recipient into the festive spirit.

2. If you must buy traditional cards, make sure you look for packs with the recycled logo – and if possible, buy them from an organisation that will put your cash to good use.  Amnesty International has a good range at reasonable prices – or you could buy from a charity that’s close to your heart such as WWF or cancer research.
3. According to Friends of the Earth, more than 8000 tonnes of wrap (or more importantly, around 50,000 trees) will go into gift wrapping our pressies this year. So, if the gift is already nicely packaged, do you really need to wrap it?  If you must buy wrap, check out the Natural Collection’s range of wrap. It’s made from raffia fibres and uses natural colours.
4. Have you joined the neighbourhood competition to see who can best light up the entire outside of their home ready for Santa?  Hopefully not – it’s a definite no-no in terms of the electricity it will use. (Indoor lights use a lot less power, but if you need to buy new lights for the tree, try to go for LED lights which use less power than traditional bulbs.)

5. Plan your Christmas menu in advance – and use it to prepare a shopping list.  That way, you should end up buying a lot less  perishable food.  Most UK households throw out a lot of the unneeded goodies they’ve bought.

6. If at all possible, buy your food from local markets or producers. It helps to support the local economy and cuts down on food miles. And if you buy fresh, loose food you also save on the packaging.
7. If you are entertaining over the holiday, DON’T buy disposable plates, table covers or cups.  If you don’t have enough china or glass for all your guests, ask them to bring their own or borrow some from a friend or neighbour.
8. If you prefer a real Christmas tree, could you afford to pay a little extra for one that comes planted in a pot?  That way, you can give it a home in the garden afterwards or donate it for planting. But remember to keep the tree outside until you decorate it. Make sure it doesn’t get overheated and don’t let the roots dry out.

9. If you’ve already ordered a real tree, ask your local council about disposal. Many now have facilities to turn January’s unwanted decorations into mulch for use in local parks.
10.  Make sure you always take re-usable shopping bags with you when either gift or food shopping but if you forget, ask the shop for unwanted cardboard boxes. You can always use them later for storage.
We’ll be devoting the next two Friday columns to gift ideas that show your concern for the planet as well as the recipient and giving you more tips on the vital 3 Rs – reduce, re-use and recycle.




  1. 1 Diana Korchien December 1, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Here’s an idea for spreading the word at Christmas. Invest in a few Calendars of Climate Change. They will be on the wall 24/7, 365 days a year to remind your nearest and dearest that climate change is now part of our life on this planet – so let’s get acquainted and stay acquainted…Made of 80% recycled paper, they do not need to be discarded at the end of the year since they concentrate a lot of useful information and stunning imagery into 12 pages. If you must get rid of them, please donate them to a local school. The science departmwnt will be grateful.

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