Christmas is coming. Before you go off on your merry way and max out the credit card, leaving a trail of landfill bound debris in your wake, Recycle for Wales have some top tips so you can be kinder to the environment, create less waste and save some cash too:
1. Make sure you write a shopping list before you hit the shops – and stick to it –
This will make sure you’re not tempted to buy things you don’t need. But if you are – check the date and storage guidance and plan them into your meal to ensure they get eaten
Some simple, quick planning before the chaos begins will mean that you have just the right amount of food for the festive period. It needn’t be boring – get the family involved and see how much money you can save by only buying food that will get eaten. And if you’re smartphone-savvy, there’s a handy meal planner on the Love Food Hate Waste app – it’s free to download so you’ve got nothing to lose.
2. Plan your portions
The love food waste portion planner is a fantastic tool for letting you know how much food to buy. Spend five minutes on here before going shopping and buy only what you need, cutting down on the amount you’ll throw away and saving you cash!
Getting the right sized turkey can be tricky. Too small and your guests will go hungry, too big and it ends up in the bin. Use this Recycle for Wales handy guide to get the prefect size:
2-2.5kg serves 4-6
3kg serves 6-7
3.5kg serves 7-8
4-4.5kg serves 8-10
5-5.5kg serves 10-12
6-6.5kg serves 12-15
3. Christmas Tree: Real or Artificial? Bought, Potted, Rented or DIY?
According to Ellipsos, the artificial tree has three times more impacts on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree. That’s assuming your artificial tree lasts six years. If your tree will last more than 20 years and if you’d have to drive a long way to buy a real tree, the opposite becomes true.
Here’s a list of options, including real and artificial:
Real Christmas trees
- Buy local
- Choose trees from farms that minimize (or do without) pesticides and herbicides
- Cut your own with a provincial permit, from lands that must be kept clear anyway. In many provinces, hydro right-of-ways have to be kept clear. This is a win-win way to meet that mandate.
Artificial Christmas trees
- Avoid PVCs — the grinchiest of plastics — that most artificial trees are made of. Not only are these hard on the environment, they’re bad for your health.
- Make it last 20 years!
Note: Watch for recycling options.
If you have the space, start a Christmas tree forest! How to care for a potted tree:
- Don’t keep the tree inside for more than a week (two max.)
- Water generously
- Place the tree outside in the yard until the spring thaw, then be plant it
Fellow Queen of Green Fran (with 20 years experience planting living Christmas trees) says:
“A living tree should never be in the house for longer than 7 days. Keep it in an enclosed porch where it will get light. If you need to keep it outdoors, then protect the root ball from freezing by mulching it in straw or leaves and but do not water (it will get enough water from the outdoors). If the root ball is wrapped in wire, make sure you remove the wire following its indoor stay so the roots don’t get pinched. Trees should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring.”
Indoor potted pine
You can also purchase a Norfolk Island pine to keep indoors, year round (and improve the air quality in your home). A great option for those who live in small spaces!
Rent a tree
You order it, they deliver it, you enjoy it and they pick it up! Here are two BC examples:
DIY Christmas tree
Make a tree from items you already own — books, scrap paper, metal coat hangers, felt, etc.
4. Charity gifts make an excellent present
Not sure what gift to buy? Don’t waste your time and money on something you’re not sure they’ll like. Charity gifts make an excellent present, and don’t come with any packaging! WWF, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and others offer this, www.charity-gifts.org have a comprehensive list.
Or here are some ecogreenlove’s collection of ideas of Upcycled (& original) Holiday Gifts!
5. Give up the Christmas Card
We know it’s a Christmas tradition but do we really need to send each other cards that’ll just end up in the bin anyway?
There are loads of ways you can send Christmas greetings – e-cards have come on a long way since their popularity in the noughties – or why not try personalise a digital photo and email it! Take advantage of the many social media apps that allow you to send Christmas wishes.
Don’t forget, if you do receive any cards, recycle them! Find out how you can recycle christmas cards in your area.
6. Avoid shiny and metallic type wrapping paper
Not all wrapping paper is created equal. Well, not from a recycling point of view anyway.
Avoid shiny and metallic type paper, as they can’t be recycled.
Find out ideas to wrap the holiday presents in a greener and original way!
7. Homemade Decorations
It’s very tempting to buy new every year, but making your own are a great excuse for using up waste items from around the home. Plus you can use again the following year, saving you cash.
If you need ideas, Recycle for Wales presents their favourites:
- Beginner (no skill required)
- Intermediate – can be a bit fiddly (some skill required)
- Pro (skill required)
Find out more ideas on ecogreenlove’s DIY Green Christmas decorations!
8. Use your leftovers.
Around 20% of all food is wasted at Christmas. If you have any leftovers, don’t bin them, use to make another meal! The Love Food Hate Waste website and app has loads of tasty recipes for your leftovers.
9. Use your freezer to extend the life of your food
Did you know you can freeze all of these foods?
- Potatoes and other root vegetables – just blanche in boiling water for a few minutes, cool, and freeze in bags or tubs.
- Hard cheeses – it’s very tempting to splurge on lots of yummy cheese at Christmas, but it doesn’t always get eaten. Thankfully, cheddar and parmesan can be grated and stilton crumbled before popping in the freezer – then add straight into soups, pasta, lasagne, gratins – the possibilities are endless!
- Lemons – got lemons about to go past their best? Slice them up and freeze, they make refreshing ice cubes for your New Year parties!
- Leftover roast meat – don’t let it go to waste, pop it in the freezer then use it again in a tasty pie or curry.
- Fresh herbs – add them to oil and/or butter then freeze to use again another time.
- Bread – when buying bread over the Christmas holidays, remember to put some straight into the freezer. It keeps perfectly for when it is needed, and you can use a sliced loaf at breakfast by toasting slices straight from frozen.
And don’t forget to eat from the freezer in the run up to the big day, freeing up space for all those tasty leftovers!
10. Recycle your tree
A prickely 400,000 trees are bought at Christmas, creating 8,000 tonnes of waste. Many of these will end up in landfill or flytipped, yet they can all be recycled!
Some local authorities may collect from your doorstep, others will ask that you cut up and add to your green waste collection, or ask that you take to your nearest recycling centre.
- Green Christmas Tips on Recycle for Wales
- Greenest Christmas tree — real, artificial or other? on David Suzuki’s Org
- Go Green for Christmas 2014 on Good Energy blog