While Christmas may be the season of giving, it can also be one of excessive consumption and waste. The choices we make when it comes to getting gifts for others, selecting decorations and preparing food can put stress on the environment. Here are some suggestions on how to better protect the planet while enjoying the holidays.
1. Green gifting
In the words of the Grinch, the famous, Christmas-hating creature in Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.” For thoughtful, greener alternatives to store-bought presents, try handmade ones like home-baked cookies or DIY crafts. Gifting experiences like a surprise trip to the spa instead of tangible objects can also make the season more memorable.
If you are thinking of buying your presents, consider locally made gifts – these potentially have a lower environmental footprint than imported goods, as long-distance transportation contributes greatly to air pollution and global warming.
You could also consider regifting an unused present that is still in good condition, if you know someone else who would like it better.
Do use recycled or recyclable wrapping paper. Most types of wrapping paper can be recycled, except for those made of non-paper material like foils or plastics, or those containing additives like glitter or too much adhesives like sticky tape.
2. Light up with LEDs
Everyone loves a well-lit tree, but traditional incandescent tree lights consume a lot of energy. If you are still using such lights, it is time to switch out to light-emitting diode (LED) lights instead. Though pricier than regular bulbs, LEDs have several benefits.
First, they consume less power and are up to 80 per cent more energy-efficient than fluorescent or incandescent lights. The energy savings make them more eco-friendly and less taxing on utility bills.
And unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs do not have filaments, which heat up easily and can burn. This means they are less dangerous, lowering your chances of setting your tree on fire, and their durability ensures you save money in the long term by not having to replace your lights as often.
If you want to switch things up, LED lights come in all shapes and sizes – think ball lights, clip lights, string lights and more!
3. Enough (food) is enough
Christmas isn’t complete without gatherings and feasting with friends, but wanting to ensure there is enough food to go around often results in overcompensating by preparing more. Food waste reportedly increases by around 10 to 20 per cent over the festive period. In 2014 alone, more than four million Christmas dinners were thrown away in the United Kingdom.
To reduce waste, try to cook or order only what is required. If you are preparing food for a house party, it helps to know what your guests like. For instance, fruitcake, eggnog and Brussels sprouts may be conventional Christmas food, but it is not a good idea to stock up on those if nobody wants to eat them.
Save your leftovers instead of throwing them out. Festive leftovers can actually keep well past the new year – cooked turkey and Christmas pudding are some food that can last four to six months if stored and frozen properly.
More bright ideas for a green Christmas
State Street, a tenant at Capital Tower, shares useful tips on how to soak up the Christmas spirit and still be kind to the environment:
- Recycle wrapping paper and cards.
- Use rechargeable batteries, or recycle them by discarding them properly.
- Donate toys and unwanted gifts to the less fortunate (or charities) instead of disposing them.
- To conserve energy, turn off your Christmas tree lights when there is no one around in the office or at home.
- Reuse Christmas decorations.
- Reduce the amount of disposable packaging and plastic cutlery and plates used for gatherings; get everyone to bring their own bottles and cups if you’re holding an event in the office.
- When shopping for festive goodies, bring your own reusable bag instead of getting new plastic bags from the store.
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