15% of household electricity is wasted by leaving TVs, Hi-fi’s and other appliances on standby. Make sure you turn things off when not using them. In general lighting accounts for 15% of household electricity, and Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 12 balloons – so make sure you get energy saving light bulbs for your house.
An estimated 1.7 billion Christmas cards are sent each year in Britain, the equivalent of 200,000 trees, and around 1 million Christmas cards are thrown away every year. Try to send recycled Christmas cards or make your own, or send texts or e-cards instead. After the big day, make sure your Christmas cards don’t go to waste – recycle them. Buy recycled Christmas cards from charities and donate up to 20% to less fortunate people at the same time.
Recycled wrapping paper
There’s no point recycling rubbish if you don’t buy recycled products! It’s estimated that 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper end up in our rubbish bins each year, that’s enough to wrap up Guernsey, so make sure that you use recycled wrapping paper, and try to wrap presents with ribbon or string instead of sticky tape.
Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residues so neither do your health or the environment any good. Soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based candles are better because they biodegrade, are smoke-free, and so more eco friendly.
Deck the halls with real holly
Instead of spending money on artificial Christmas decorations that won’t biodegrade, let nature decorate your home. House decorations can be made from organic, recycled and scrap materials. Try popcorn, dough, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, holly, seasonal berries, ivy and evergreen branches – once you have finished with them, you can put them in the composter.
If you’ve been wondering which is better, the simple answer is that real trees are the more eco friendly choice. Although artificial trees last for many years they are made from metal and derivatives of PVC, which requires large amounts of energy to make, and also creates by-products such as lead which can be harmful to both the environment and human health. The average life of an artificial tree is just 6 years and given that they are not naturally biodegradable they will potentially pollute a landfill site for many years to come. Most artificial trees sold are now made in Taiwan and China and so have additional energy costs associated with transport. Real trees are carbon neutral, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as they grow as they will emit when burnt or left to decompose. They are also a wildlife habitat and a naturally renewable resource, and generally feel much nicer in your home. They can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year.
Be battery wise
Families can get through a lot of batteries, particularly at Christmas. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, don’t biodegrade and are difficult to recycle. Instead use rechargeable ones.
Buy an organic turkey
10 million turkeys are eaten every Christmas. If you can, try to make sure it has been reared in humane conditions. Organic turkeys taste better too. Buy Christmas food locally, shopping at farmers markets or buying direct from the farmer is far cheaper than buying organic in the supermarket. Think of the benefits – the taste of chemical-free food, the reduction in food miles and CO2 emissions, and reduced dependence on oil. Buying locally produced food also boosts rural jobs.
Recycle your unwanted presents
Unfortunately everyone receives at least one unwanted gift at Christmas. Recycle unwanted presents to charities. Local hospitals and hospices are often very pleased to receive unwanted smellies to give to patients.
Give a charity or environmentally friendly gift
Sponsor an animal or give a membership to a charity or environmental organisation for Christmas.
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