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How to have a greener Christmas

Posted by ecosrights, 1121 days ago

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Reading discussion "How to have a greener Christmas" - Join this discussion / 21 comment(s)
This morning I noticed that Shinningstar had posted an article re the amount of waste we generate at Christmas.

This got me thinking - it's got to be the most commercial and wasteful event of the year, so surely it's an ideal thing to start trying to "green"

Let's see what ideas we can come up with - if you have any ideas how to have a more sustainable Christmas, please add them on. Some may be more expensive, but others, I'm sure, will help you save money. Is there anything you do each year, or anything that you'd like to do? Let's see what we can come up with...

For a start:
If you must have meat, then go organic and locally farmed
Order a box for your fruit and veg (Abel and Cole do a great Christmas box for those of you who are in the UK, and they'll deliver it anywhere in the UK. Ideally though, look for more local schemes - may be the local farmer does something as a special for Christmas.
Don't over do it - I know Christmas is a time when the diet is out of the window, but that doesn't mean you have to buy and cook 3 times the normal amount (I can never work out why everyone else seems to be loading their trolley so high at Christmas - OK, you've got guests, but that must mean that they are buying less...)

try to make them - if you've got kids, there are loads of sites around for ideas for present making. Try here for a start. Or why not try making sweets - marzipan or fudge - and then making a box to put them in. Homemade gifts are appreciated so much more, generally cost a lot less, and are more likely to be used / eaten.
I remember making lots of pencil pots for family out of toilet roll holders covered in fabric or painted - I'm sure my Granny still uses hers now.

On the day, walk or cycle, don't drive - it means you can have a drink as well. Or at least have one person on pick up / drop off duty so that there aren't so many cars on the roads. Walking or cycling helps you build the appetite and then work off the enormous meal you have.
Have the smaller group of family / friends travel to the larger group - few people, less pollution, less cost.

Again, make them. Use last year's Christmas cards - cut out shapes, stick glitter on them and hang them on the tree.
Make a snow man out of a toilet roll covered in cotton wool, with a ball of wool for the head and stick on eyes, nose and mouth.
Rather than lots of tinsel (nasty plastic.....) make traditional paper chains to trail across the room - you could even paint newspaper and cut it into strips to use.
For wrapping, well try not to go overboard - the paper is bad enough (make sure you recycle the waste and the paper after opening) but the curling ribbon is not good..... so try using jute or string instead. You can have some very stylish wrapping with brown paper and jute string.

I could go on for ages with ideas of gifts to make for various members of the family, but I'll stop for now. If you've any ideas, please add them on. Reply to this


  1. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by duncan, 1120 days ago

    As ever, there are plenty of tips online so I'll try to round them up here:

    This is a nice interactive guide to a green Christmas, including a hint to grow your own mistletoe, as "Mistletoe (Viscum album) is one of the UK's endangered species".

    The National Geographic points out that "between Thanksgiving and New Year's day, Americans throw away a million extra tons [900,000 metric tons] of garbage each week, including holiday wrapping and packaging". They recommend using LED lights as they use the least power, and making use of a website like Earth911 to find Christmas Tree Recycling Centres, US only though.

    And finally, Friends of the Earth have twenty tips for a greener Christmas.

    Reply to this comment

    1. Re: Re: How to have a greener Christmas by JoP, 1100 days ago

      making Christmas cards, decorations, presents does not take a lot of time, it's also a lot of fun and very satisfying.I started doing it with my two offspring three decades ago, and even though my grandson is only two and a half years old he will be thoroughly involved in cutting, painting and sticking cards, gift tags and decorations this year, as he was last year at 18 months! It's so much more satisfying and thoroughly appreciated by the whole family than over-priced shop bought plastic rubbish pushed at us by retail outlets!

      Reply to this comment

  2. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by jane, 1111 days ago

    I've set myself a challenge this year - all gifts to be "green" or homemade... I'll let you know how it goes.

    By green, it could be organic, sustainable, recycled, fairtrade, made by a charity etc. If anyone has any good suggestions, please let me know.

    Reply to this comment

  3. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1097 days ago

    I've decided I'm going to work through some of our previous articles and add some links into here of sites that do good gifts online that have a green element to them.

    To start with:

    The Natural Collection - all sorts of things, especially "things" for the house such as cushions and throws, and gifts.

    Cowshed toiletries, but only for those you know well! Just check out some of the names....

    Traidcraft one of my personal favourites from years gone by. They have all sorts of fair trade and recycled stationary and gifts... a good place for inspiration and purchasing.

    Pink Planet fairtrade and organic gifts

    The Green Shop lots of wierd and wonderful gifts, plus some household items. They've a real cross section of "green living" goods.

    That'll do for now... I'll keep growing this list though.

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  4. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1103 days ago

    The Organic Gardening Catalogue - as the name suggests, this is for the greenfingered friends and relatives. The seeds and bulbs I've had from them have all been great

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  5. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1102 days ago

    Probably one of the most obvious things that I have missed out on - your tree.

    Don't by a real tree that can only be used for one year - buy a potted one that you can bring indoors each year and reuse. If you must have a "dead" tree, then ensure you dispose of it correctly- most councils offer a service in January to ensure that trees are chipped or mulched and don't just go into landfill.

    Reply to this comment

    1. Re: Re: How to have a greener Christmas by shinningstar, 1100 days ago

      I'm done making a Christmas tree at home. I saw a tree at the backyard. It's a perfect tree for Christmas. Instead of cutting the tree, I brought out some of my Christmas light at home. I asked my brother to put all the light aroung that tree at the backyard. I used lanterns out of broken umbrellas. I covered the lanterns with junkfood wrappers. I made a big star out of recycled straw. Cans of coke or pepsi were useful too. My Christmas tree was natural. My neighbors were happy looking at my Christmas tree in the backyard. That's how to have a greener Christmas.

      Reply to this comment

      1. Re: Re: Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1100 days ago

        Hey, that's a great idea to decorate a tree outside instead of bringing one in, especially if you can see the tree from the house. I also like the idea of the straw star - there's something more festive about natural decorations.

        Reply to this comment

    2. Re: Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1096 days ago

      I heard a very relevant point today - Christmas lights! Well they are a big culprit at Christmas, especially as people cover their houses more and more with garish (sorry, but I have never really liked them) moving lights. Not only does that put pressure on the bank balance, but on the environment. Really think twice before lightly the house up for weeks on end.

      There's another point - more people put their trees up earlier now than they used to. In many parts of Europe tradition says the tree doesn't go up until Christmas Eve, and here in the UK it used to be 12 days before, not on the 1st Christmas.

      Reply to this comment

  6. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1088 days ago

    Check out this link for a great idea for a "green" gift.

    Reply to this comment

  7. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by duncan, 1085 days ago

    One things for sure, if you want to have a green Christmas in the US, you won't want to be buying a PS3 from Sony as they use eight times a much power as the previous model, the massively popular PS2!

    Reply to this comment

  8. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by duncan, 1072 days ago

    We've been trying to start our green Xmas shopping this week, and doing it in the big superstores is pretty close to impossible. It looks like the best way to go green this Christmas is to do it online. Thankfully, ecostreet have a great guide to environmental cost of Christmas cards, pointing out that over three hundred thousand trees will be turned into cards this year. But is the only real alternative an e-card?

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  9. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by suttree, 1070 days ago

    And here's a good place in the UK to get recycled Christmas cards:


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  10. Sweet Christmas gifts by ecosrights, 1068 days ago

    Ever since i was a kid, I've made Christmas sweets and then put them in homemade card board boxes with bows and given them as gifts. We always had a plate of home made sweets around on the day itself for everyone to help themselves rather than boxes of Cadbury's and Nestle chocolates.

    one of the good things about making your own sweets and cookies is that you can make them as "green" as you like by selecting appropriate ingredients. Try some of the following:

    Marzipan shapes - if you've young kids around, more than likely they'll love playing with Play-doh, so substitute this with Marzipan (use food colourings so that you have an array of colours) and add sugar strands, grated chocolate, melted chocolate and anything else you can think of to decorate them.

    A family favourite has always been chocolate marzipan cherries - flatten a small piece of marizpan (about the size of a cherry) and us it to cover a glace cherry. Then cut in half and using cocktail sticks and forks (or whatever combination you find works best as this can be a messy process) dip it in melted plain chocolate, then put it to dry on greaseproof paper.

    melt chocolate (preferrably plain), mix in liquer (if desired) and cream, then add lots of icing sugar until it thickens and roll into balls. You can then dust them in cocoa powder, icing sugar, sugar strands... up to you

    I'm going to be trying some with soya milk / cream this year so that our son can help make them (although he may want to eat the mix first.... could be a challenge)

    Well, you could cheat and melt mars bars with a bit of extra chocolate and then add icing sugar, or you could go the whole hog and make it from scratch. It all depends upon how adverterous you are. There are lots of recipes around, so I wont provide any now.

    As well as this you can do things like a toffee or fudge mix with chopped nuts, dried fruit and seeds in it. They look odd, but always go down well. Or add cherries to your truffles - a really nice combination.

    Really your imagination (and tolerance for mess) are the only limits here, so have fun. I'll have to start making ours soon - the marzipan ones last for a long time, but remember if they have cream in they wont keep for as long (from people eating or the elements!)

    HAVE FUN! :)

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  11. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by ecosrights, 1060 days ago

    Another place - Gossypium who have some really nice organic and fairtrade cotton clothing and bedding, including some great yoga gear.

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  12. Re: How to have a greener Christmas by Natural_Ideas, 1043 days ago

    Something I have done ever since I was a young child was save any good bits of wrapping paper to use again next year. Incentive to not just wrip into those christmas presents! Something my mum and I still do is after xmas, before you throw your cards away, cut out any images on the front of them that you think you could use as gift tags for next year (just make sure you've got blank space on the otherside to write).

    I also have a site where you can get eco-friendly ideas on how to make you're own natural beauty products www.eco-friendly-homemade-gift-ideas.co.uk .

    Reply to this comment

  13. Re: How to have a greener Christmas 2007 by ecosrights, 730 days ago

    I'm going to get this discussion going again as it is that season again.. people are making plans for Christmas, buying presents etc.... this year, let's try to do it all with a greener hat on. Don't just go for the paper that's cheapest on your wallet, think about the impact on the environment. Do this with some of your presents as well and I'm sure it will be appreciated by the receivers (not just of the gift, but also of those that inherit the "waste")

    Reply to this comment

  14. Wrapping paper by ecosrights, 715 days ago

    This year (2007) I decided that I'd try to track down some green or red kraft paper again as it's made from a high percentage of recycled material and is recyclable, therefore both ends are "green". Great..... well, I've done a lot of hunting and found... well.... blue and yellow and that's it.

    So, I thought, had a look at recycled paper. There's some nice stuff around (try Traidcraft or The Ethical Superstore or The Natural Collection for some good examples) but it's all pricey (and some looks to be distinctly plastic coated, therefore not recyclable, but I can't be certain - I'm just going by the pictures). So instead I started on the hunt for recyclable paper.... well... that's been almost as much of a challenge. I'm pleased to say I found some in the end in Waitrose. It's not the best of solutions, but it's affordable and I always live by the phrase "if there's a viable alternative, go for it" and that applies to both cost and practicality (in terms of green and being veggie....I still wear leather shoes as I can not longer find a decent alternative that survives my walking)

    Reply to this comment

    1. Re: Wrapping paper by ecosrights, 689 days ago

      For some other ideas check out Ecostreet for ideas of how to wrap gifts in fabric (why not make the fabric part of the gift by using a silk scarf?)

      Reply to this comment

  15. The Presents by ecosrights, 702 days ago

    Of course a key element to making Christmas greener is to only buy presents that will be used... don't by "junk" or things that will only be valued very short term (unless they are consumed or smellies of course!).

    If you don't know what to get someone (there is always someone who is difficult to buy for) why not make a donation to their favourite charity on their behalf or sponsor and animal or child somewhere in the world. That way the money has gone to a good cause and it will be valued for ever rather than just creating more landfill rubbish.

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  16. Present ideas by ecosrights, 689 days ago

    For those of you who are still looking for green gift ideas, check out Tracy's article over on Ecostreet...

    She's been trawling the net for ideas for all family and friends that all have the environment in mind (some more obvious than others)

    Reply to this comment

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