Keynsham Voice December column, have yourself a sustainable Christmas

In case you missed the Keynsham Voice this month you can read our column here:

It’s December, and Christmas is on everyone’s mind. There are presents to buy, meals to plan and the tree to decorate. But with the average Briton generating 30% more waste over the Christmas period, how do we make sure our environment benefits from the festivities as much as we do?

According to recent estimates, 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away rather than recycled every Christmas – enough to circle the equator nine times. And foil backed wrapping paper can’t be recycled at all. Instead, how about wrapping presents with newsprint? It looks surprisingly good. And if you’ve got kids, why not spend a happy couple of hours printing green Christmas trees, red Santa hats and yellow stars on the newspaper sheets?

We discard 250 tonnes of Christmas trees every year which could have been used for compost. So, get familiar with B&NES Christmas tree collection (and don’t forget to cut the tree up if it’s a big one). Or better yet, buy a living Christmas tree, leave it in the garden over the year and bring it in at Christmas.

Approximately two million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 17.2 million Brussel Sprouts are thrown away every Christmas. To reduce food waste, meal plan and only buy what you need. Avoid the BOGOFs! If you do have leftovers, they can almost certainly be frozen for eating later. Check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for some great leftover recipes.

Research in 2015 suggested the average family spends between £300 and £500 on presents at Christmas. That budget could be cut considerably, and help others at the same time, by buying from charity shops. Just £10 would buy you a whole pile of novels for your book-loving friend or relative. There are masses of other bargains in charity shops too, from kids’ toys to DVDs, from clothes to jewellery.

And for the person who really does have everything? Why not donate the money to someone who needs it instead? Loads of charities offer ‘virtual’ gifts, including Oxfam and Save the Children. Your money will buy mosquito nets, a school bag kit, or even a couple of goats.

It really is easy to have a sustainable Christmas. Why not challenge yourself to make a small switch this festive season, and care for the planet as well as people?

Published in Keynsham Voice, December 2017,

Wrapped Gift Photo, Ohsohappytogether, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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