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How to have an eco-friendly Christmas

A toy Christmas train in the snow

Christmas is a time to come together, eat, drink and be merry. But nowadays, more and more of us are keen to minimise the impact that our celebrations have on the planet. From train travel to eco-friendly decoration ideas, here are some simple ways to enjoy a more sustainable Christmas.

Make sure your tree is green

The look, feel and scent of a real Christmas tree just can’t be beat. And as long as you dispose of them correctly, real trees are much more eco-friendly than their fake friends, which need to be used for up to nine Christmases to have less impact than a real tree. If your tree has roots, it can be successfully replanted in your garden ready for the next year. If you need to dispose of your tree, head to the Recycle Now website to find out about drop-off points in your area, where it will be shredded into clippings and used in local parks and woodland.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly (literally)

Give the tinsel a miss and look to nature for your decoration inspiration. Sticks, foliage and pinecones foraged on winter walks can make beautiful seasonal displays. Place twigs around glass jars to create magical candle holders or hang dried berries and orange slices on your tree.

If your fairy lights have given up the ghost, make the switch to LEDs. They’re much more energy-efficient than traditional lights, using up to 80% less energy. Make sure you take your old lights to a household waste recycling centre. And once your outdoor lights have gone, swap them for solar powered ones.

Ditch the car

An estimated 3 million extra car journeys were made in the great Christmas getaway last year. Not only does that Christmas car journey inevitably come with some hefty delays, it also has a considerable toll on the environment - research by The Energy Saving Trust found that a journey from London to Edinburgh by car uses four times more carbon emissions per person than travelling by train. So, if you’re travelling home to spend Christmas with loved ones and are looking for a stress-free and more eco-friendly travel option, get on the train. Not only that, booking train tickets in advance means you can get great savings on your tickets.

Wrap it up

Did you know that most wrapping paper can’t be recycled, so will end up in landfill? Do the ‘scrunch test’ – if you can’t scrunch it, then it can’t be recycled. For a much eco-friendlier and more recyclable alternative, use brown paper. You can dress it up any way you like: use bits of ribbon or string to create bows; let the kids get creative with their felt tips or head out to the garden to find twine, ivy and holly to create seasonal and oh-so-chic adornments.

Get clever with leftovers

Whether it’s an extra box of mince pies to accommodate unexpected visitors or buying far too many potatoes for the big day, most of us are guilty of over-buying food at Christmas.

But you don’t have to throw your leftovers and surplus food away. In the run up to the festive season, start eating up the contents of your freezer to make room to freeze any leftovers once the big day’s over.

Boil your turkey carcass with an onion, carrot and herbs to make a tasty stock you can freeze in portions to use in soups over the coming colder months. Stir a spoonful of curry paste and a tin of coconut milk in with your leftover roast veg and turkey to make a tasty Boxing Day curry. Or turn the remainder of your Christmas cheeseboard and pigs in blankets into a fancy mac ‘n’ cheese. The Love Food Hate Waste website has plenty more recipe ideas for your Christmas leftovers.

It all helps. The latest figures from WRAP say that the nation’s increased commitment to reducing food waste has resulted in saving 5.0 million tonnes of CO2 over the past 12 years – that’s the equivalents of taking 2.2 million cars off the road!

Here’s to a very merry and green Christmas to you, and our planet!



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