Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Have A Green Xmas

Some ideas for a greener Xmas, with more fun, less stress and less waste.

A typical Christmas dinner these days can contain ingredients that have been transported over 30,000 miles, but it’s really easy to cut this down simply by picking local products off the shelf instead of far-flung alternatives: hazels rather than brazil nuts, English beer rather than Australian wine, local organic ham instead of Indonesian prawns.

The original midwinter festival involved a feast of seasonal produce, embellished with preserved items from earlier in the year, so root vegetables, cabbages, sprouts, dried fruit, nuts, local cheeses and chutneys are all real traditional low-carbon fare. Don’t get hormone-stuffed, frightened food for your roast, invest in an organic, free-range bird from nearby, and ‘offset’ the extra cost by getting a smaller one. Visit your local market for a real bargain on the rest of the meal, compared with overpriced supermarket vegetables. You’ll be supporting your local economy, plus, if it’s unpackaged, you can buy just the amount you need and won’t end up throwing half of it away.

Moving on to presents, let’s start by ruling out pointless gadgets that will simply end up in the cupboard after a couple of weeks. No golf ball polishers, no coffee machines that need an endless supply of little plastic cartridges, no heaters or mixers that can only do one thing - no attic fodder at all. Instead, get non-material gifts: something useful like tickets to an event, vouchers for meals, downloads or books, or membership of an organisation such as the National Trust or Sustrans . If you feel obliged to get something that won’t fit in an envelope, use gift-giving as an excuse to introduce your friends and family to green stuff. Basics that everyone needs are best. Get bamboo t-shirts, hemp socks, quality recycled stationary, local organic foodstuffs or non-polluting shower gel, and make sure they know where to buy replacements when they find they love them and want more.

At the end of the season, make sure everything is recycled. We create three million tonnes of extra waste over the Christmas period and use over 250,000 trees’ worth of wrapping paper, so buying recycled and putting everything from the Christmas tree to your sprout peelings in the recycling box or the compost bin is essential.

So, there’s my very brief seasonal tips and the bah-humbug detector has hardly flinched. I hope this shows that having a ‘perfect’ Christmas doesn’t involve going crazy and consuming everything in sight, and that having a ‘green’ Christmas doesn’t involve shivering around a candle in fingerless gloves for a fortnight.

Some interesting ideas for eco presents can be found at, along with,,,, , and many more

The Water Drop Shower Timer is an ideal Christmas stocking filler for all members of the family that can be used to teach both adults and children the importance of saving water and energy.
This great interactive water saving device which will no doubt help build an energy saving interest among the younger generation. £4.99 inc VAT has many interesting ideas eg planting a hedgerow, buy a piece of greenbelt to protect it
, goats for peace
and many more.

* Goats For Peace seems to have been replaced by a more mixed farmyard option. 'Once an African family owns a cow, 2 goats, 5 chickens and a cockerel, subsistence farming life takes an upward turn. The manure makes the vegetable patch fertile. Income and nutrition improve with the production of milk, eggs and the results of animal multiplication. And the price? ´165 buys all the animals and starter feed. P.S. Ardent knitters can also knit a farmyard, so children in Africa can play. Delivery through Goats for Peace and SURF Survivors Fund, Rwanda.'

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