Saturday, February 28, 2015

CATEGORY - Christmas

(No way I'll remember to come back to this nearer the time, so best to get it logged and up now)

Santa's Green Christmas


Christmas is a great time of the year for most of us. And also an extremely busy time. Running around buying presents, wrapping them up, making last minute preparations, and putting up the decorations. Christmas time is also a busy time of the year for waste. An extra 3 million tonnes of waste is produced over the festive period, and this includes up to 1 billion Christmas cards. Ever wondered how you could be a bit more 'green' over Christmas, but also save a bit of time and money too? Well this section explains how to do just that. Read on and be inspired..

Green Santa's Top Festive Facts

* Royal Mail delivers approximately 150 million Christmas cards and packets during the run up to Christmas. If all the Christmas cards were laid end to end they would span from London to Sydney and back more than five times! (Source: Spelthorne Borough Council).

* It is estimated that during the Christmas period over 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, that's enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey. (Source: Waste Watch)

* During the Christmas period we use between 20-30% extra glass and cans than at any other time of the year.

* Over six million trees were bought last Christmas in the UK, most of which were thrown out after December creating over 9,000 tonnes of additional rubbish, almost five times the weight of the London Eye. (Source: Spelthorne Borough Council).

* The waste produced over Christmas is the equivalent to 400,000 double decker buses, stretching all the way from London to New York City. Half of this waste can be recycling, but only 10% of it is.
(Source: Spelthorne Borough Council).

* Santa Claus was originally green, and not red. Coca-Cola bought the rights and changed him to red in 1931 (source:

What's the Point?

There are a few advantages of re-use and recycling, apart from the obvious one of it being good for the environment!

* It can save you money. Yup it really can! For example, re-using old Christmas cards for name tags for presents, or doing your Christmas shop online can save you money. By doing little things like that, the pennies will add up!

* Doing things such as food shopping online saves you time. You don't have the hassle of finding a parking space, then lugging the kids round the aisles, and then spending half an hour to queue, then there's the packing and trying to get it all home again. Shopping for your goodies can be done in the comfort of your own home while drinking a cup of tea.

* It gives you a sense of satisfaction. Many people feel particularly bad about throwing so much stuff away and this gets highlighted at Christmas when you're stuffing 6 black binliners full of wrapping paper, ready for the dustbin men to take away.

* Finding a second use for something that has been cluttering up your storage space for the past six months creates more space. It is amazing what junk can be turned into. And in many ways everyone does reuse and recycling a lot more than what they think. People who love antiques are basically keeping old material out of the landfill. Car boots sales and garage sales are another example.

I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas.

There are lots of ways to make your Christmas a bit greener this year. These are tips, which will also save you a bit of time and money too.

Christmas cards and Gifts

* If you do want to give out cards, then make sure they are from recycled material. Alternatively, save some money and send e-cards instead. There are plenty of websites that let you send free e-cards.

* An alternative to giving Christmas cards is to give the money to charity instead, which many people do.

* Keep the Christmas cards that are sent to you. They make name tags for Christmas presents for next year.

* Alternatively, recycle your Christmas cards. Retailers such as Tesco and WH Smith do Christmas card recycling during January.

* Shop online or buy most of your Christmas presents from one place. This helps cut down on emissions and pollution, and it also means you get to miss the Christmas rush!

* Try and avoid sticky tape when wrapping presents, use ribbon or string instead. Sticky tape doesn't biodegrade, so can only be used once. Ribbon and string can be used again.

* Buy greener gifts for you friends and family. There are many online stores that sell some fabulous presents that are ideal for Christmas. Alternatively buy from charity shops or buy gift vouchers or tickets. Some of the websites you could try are: - Which gives you a good in-depth guide to a wide range of gifts. - For organic lovers. - Some good ideas here. For alternative Christmas gifts. - For something a little different.

* Take unwanted gifts to charity shops instead of throwing them away (like Aunt Ada's knitted pink jumper that is ten sizes too big for you) or sell it on eBay! One man's junk is another man's junkk.

* Buy presents that don't require batteries.

* Buy presents that are going to last all year rather than until Boxing Day!

Food and Drink

* Do your Christmas food shopping online, or buy fresh produce from local shops. This reduces the amount of packaging that is used.

* When going to the Christmas and January sales, take your own shopping bags with you.

* Write a list of what food you want to buy, so that you don't over spend. It is easy to buy lots of food at Christmas that you never get round to eating so it ends up in the bin. If you have a garden, compost your Christmas leftovers, including potato and carrot peelings.

* Buy food in refillable containers.

* Buy foods that are packaged in material you know that you can recycle in your area.

Wrapping and Decorating

* Use alternative methods of wrapping paper such as newspaper, or old fabric instead. Or simply put gifts into bags, as this reduces the amount of wrapping needed. If you do decide to se wrapping paper, make sure it is 100% recycled. One idea is to keep wrapping paper from this years present and save it to wrap next year's presents up.

* There is a bit of debate about what type of Christmas tree to go for. Artificial ones have been made with various chemicals, and plastics, which in itself isn't too good for the environment. On the other hand, they can be reused year after year. A real tree can only be used once, but doesn't contain harmful chemicals, and of course was not made from plastic. We recommend that if you buy a real tree, go for one that can be re-potted into the garden after, so that it lives. If you prefer to stick with artificial trees, then buy one that is made from eco-friendly products. Of course you don't even have to buy a Christmas tree at all.

* Check out your local council to see if they are running a Christmas tree recycling scheme. Many councils now provide this facility over the Christmas period.

* If you buy your Christmas decorations, make sure that they are durable, and will last you for years.

* It is much more fun and better for the environment if you make your decorations. There are a few decoration ideas on this website, to help you get started.

Christmas Decorations - a few ideas to get you started

The Glitter Angel

You need:
* A one litre soda/lemonade bottle
* String
* Craft glue
* Glitter
* Small ball ornament (alternatively a widget from a beer can for example)
* Piece of gold tinsel
* Waxed paper lined cookie sheet

Step one:
Cut the bottom off the bottle. Dip the pieces of string into the craft glue and water solution. This needs to be the consistency of thick cream. Then coil the string around the bottle starting from the bottom. Cover the whole bottle like this.

Step two:
On a waxed paper lined cookie sheet, shape a long piece of glue soaked string into an outline of angel wings. Fill in the wings with dipped string coiled into lacy patterns. Before the glue dries, sprinkle with glue.

Step three:
When the wings are dry, glue them to the body. For the head, glue the ball on top of the bottle. Crown the angel with a gold tinsel halo. Use glue to stick it down.

Paper Chains

You need:
* Left over clean tin foil
* Christmas wrapping paper from last year
* Another other scrap bits of paper and card
* Glue

Step one:
Cut the card, tin foil, and paper into strips.

Step two:
Stick the two ends of the strip of paper together with the glue. With the second strip of paper, link it through the first one before you glue it together. Continue until the paper chain is to your required length, or you run out of material!

Glittery cones

You need:
* Pine cones collected from your garden
* Flour and water (optional)
* Glue
* Glitter
* String (optional)

Step one:
Mix the flour and water together to form a paste. Paste this on the pine cone.

Step two:
Sprinkle the glitter over the pinecone and let it dry. The flour and paste acts like glue. If you prefer, use craft glue. Either place on your tree, or tie some string to it and hang on the tree.

Seasons Greetings

It seems like only yesterday that we were writing the last Christmas feature. Well here we are again, full of new ideas, (and some old ones just to remind you!) to have a fantastic Christmas without costing the earth.

Some Festive Facts

* Around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas - that's the equivalent weight of more than 50,000 festive polar bears!!! When buying gifts, try to avoid items that are excessively packaged. (Source: Durham County Council)

* Around 4,000 million sprouts are bought in the week before Christmas (Source: Friends of the Earth)

* An extra 500 million aluminium and steel drink cans will also be used over the festive period - vent your festive frustration by crushing your tins before placing them in the recycling banks. (Source: )

* More than 80,000 tonnes of old clothes are thrown away over Christmas - if you get a whole new wardrobe, donate your unwanted clothes to charity shops. ( )

* More than 10 million turkeys are bought each year at Christmas time. (Source Friends of the Earth)

* One of our favourite facts from last year is that Santa Claus was originally green, not red. The guys at Coca-Cola bought the rights and changed him to red in 1931.

Reduce your festive footprint this year

* Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables and meat from the local farm shop/high street shops. This reduces food miles, and your food will also taste fresher. It also reduces packaging waste.

* Make a handmade recipe book. Gather family recipes that you enjoyed from childhood, or recipes from your friends, and give it as a gift.

* Dedicate a tree to someone. Check out 

* Check out for gifts to benefit third world countries. You can purchase a goat, a donkey, and school dinners for 200 children, trees, essential medicines, toilets, and many more items.

* Adopt an animal from the WWF. Animals include dolphins, pandas, tigers and elephants. Check out 

* Check out for some fair trade gifts.

* Make a fair trade/organic/local food hamper as a gift to friends and family.

* Check out for some funky recycling handbags which will make great presents.

* Combine a practical gift with a love of music and buy a vinyl clock artists include Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Kinks, REM, Oasis, and many many more.

Just a festive reminder

* To reuse cards from last year for gift tags.

* Use string/ribbon instead of sticky tape for wrapping presents.

* Buy everything in bulk so that less packaging is used.

* Make Christmas decorations from stuff in your home, it will save you buying more decorations!

* Compost food leftovers.

* Instead of sending Christmas cards, send E-cards instead. 

The team would like to wish everyone a Merry Green Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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