Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How to have a happy eco-friendly Christmas

As the festive season approaches, many people are buying presents, planning food, and arranging parties. But is there a way to enjoy the celebrations while minimising the impact on the environment?

I think there is. Here are some suggestions.

Don't overbuy presents
Let's face it, we've all done it. And we've had someone do it to us, maybe without realising. It results in that familiar guilty feeling that someone has splashed out on you, while you only got them something relatively small. And whether you're young or old, some of those extra presents always seem to end up unwanted or unused - which is a real waste! So:

  - Have a present list and pass it to family and friends
  - Agree a spending limit with others. People are often more receptive to this than you would think. And it means people can concentrate on the real value of the present and not just how much it cost or how many items they've bought.
  - When you go out shopping, know what you're buying and for who. Ask for present ideas if you're unsure.
  - Try giving gifts that are a bit more personal and don't involve buying new stuff. For example, offering an evening babysitting, or offering to cook a meal. You can write the details on paper and present them in an envelope if you want to give something on Christmas day.

Party Planning
Disposable plates and cutlery make for easy clean-up, but they're not so good for the environment. There are more environmentally friendly alternatives to paper and plastic that are made from plant fibres with minimal processing. But the best way is to use tableware that you can wash in a dishwasher and re-use.

Full of food?
It's difficult to estimate how much food and drink your guests will want, and how much they will bring along themselves. If you've got leftovers at the end of the evening, suggest that everyone takes something home with them (and perhaps something different from what they brought).

Or why not prolong the festivities? Before throwing away the remains of the food, find out if you can freeze or refrigerate it and use it up over a few days or more. Search the Internet and you will find information on preserving all sorts of food easily and safely. And I mean all sorts - for example, did you know that you can freeze some types of cheese?

So, in conclusion...
Be good to others, to yourself, and to the environment. But most of all, have a great time. See you in 2013!

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