I'm dreaming of a... green Christmas! Green? That's right. In a season known for excess I'm thinking of all those little things you can do or avoid to make this time of year a bit kinder on our planet.
Keep the same decorations – Each year I see people online asking what colour scheme others are having this year. Ours will be the same as last year and many years before that! There is no need to buy new decorations for your tree each year. If you're starting from scratch choose colours that go with the room the tree is in and stick to that.
Wrap it up – We all like the surprise of a present but think how Christmas wrapping paper is made, printed and then thrown away each year. If you do you use wrapping paper recycle it if possible. Most wrapping paper can be recycled and you can check by doing the 'scrunch test'. If you scrunch up a ball of wrapping paper in your hand and it stays as a ball then it is generally recyclable.
Think about alternatives to wrapping paper by using old newspapers or I've even seen presents wrapped in tea towels! If this is bit much for you get some gift bags instead. I have several which have done the rounds of the family and come back again – festive, tasteful and very environmentally friendly if used time and time again.
Shine a light – There seems to be more and more outdoor lights and displays these days. I can't deny I love seeing but the amount of electricity they use up if frightening. Across the road from us they seem to keep theirs on all night which is completely unnecessary. Make sure all your lights are on timer switches. Also make sure you don't overload your electric sockets as fires and blow outs are not good for anyone! I have seen solar Christmas lights about but since we don't have any I can't attest to their effectiveness.
Oh Christmas Tree! - This is a tricky subject and of course divided into real and artificial trees. A recent report on the BBC website has found that if you buy an artificial tree you need to keep and use it for at least 10 years to help keep its environmental impact lower than a real one. So if your tree ain't broke don't buy a new one.
In you are in the real tree camp you need to decide between a cut tree and a potted one. When you have finished with a cut tree don't just dump it, even in your own garden, or put it in landfill afterwards. The best ways to keep the carbon footprint down are to chip it up to spread over the garden, let your council take it away if they have a special service for recycling Christmas trees or somewhat surprisingly by burning it.
If you have a potted tree plant it after Christmas so it can keep growing throughout the year. Do check what size your variety can grow to as some can reach great heights!
Get natural – Forget the tinsel and plastic garlands and go out in search of natural foliage. Wherever you live there is always a park or open space where you can find ivy, holly and whatever else takes your fancy. Just make sure you don't start taking clippings from a stranger's garden!
Love your leftovers – Normal meals seem to go out of the window at Christmas time but try to keep food waste out of the bin. If you're having the traditional turkey buy one suited to the number of people who are going to eat it and not the biggest bird they have in the shop! Leftover vegetables are great cooked up as bubble and squeak the next day and most things can be made into a risotto.
Not so secret – Say no secret Santas and any novelty gifts. They're not needed and generally end up being some tat which you wouldn't use. If you are the unfortunate recipient of such a present save it for the next tombola request (if it is suitable for public viewing!) rather than throwing it away .
Proper papers and cutlery – Paper plates and plastic knives and forks are handy if you have extra people coming over but they will probably end up in the bin after just one use. If you need extra items check out your local charity shops as they usually have stacks of plates and cutlery. If you don't have anywhere to store them after Christmas give them back to the charity shop and see the price you have paid as a Christmas donation.
Do you find a lot goes to waste at Christmas? Are you trying to cut down this year?
Linking up with the lovely Rosie over at A Green and Rosie Life who inspired this post with her #GoingGreenLinky