Going green this Christmas is one of the most effective ways for shoppers to save money during the credit crunch, according to Kingston University’s Sustainability Team. By cutting down on packaging, sending e-cards and buying second-hand presents families can reduce their bills and help the environment. Nicola Corrigan, Sustainability Facilitator for Kingston University in South West London, said the festive season was often all about consumerism and splashing the cash but, with a little preparation, taking the low carbon-footprint option could be far more rewarding.
"In the current climate being green isn’t only the responsible thing to do it also makes financial sense," Ms Corrigan said. "From scouring the charity shops for bargains to organising clothes-swap parties in the hope of finding an outfit for the festive parties, there’s plenty you can do to curb your spending and tighten the belt this Christmas. Not only will it reduce the impact you have on the environment it will ease the strain on your wallet too."
To help put the plan into practice the Kingston University Sustainability Team has devised 10 tips to help families achieve a greener Christmas.
Charity shops and online auction sites, like e-Bay, selling second-hand clothes and gifts provide eco-friendly alternatives and come at a fraction of the cost.
Invite your friends around and swap tops, jeans and skirts to treat yourself to a free new look this party season and give old item of clothing that have been buried at the bottom of your wardrobe new lease of life.
Opt for an e-card rather than a paper version – it’s cheaper, you can personalise your season’s greetings and send a little line to explain why you have opted for e-cards this year. If you do use the paper version, opt for charity cards printed on recycled paper or choose a brand approved by an environmental body like the Forestry Stewardship Council, which only use paper pulp from sustainably managed forests. For more information, visit www.fsc-uk.org.
With some shops now charging for carrier bags, get into the habit of keeping a small fold up re-usable bag with you in your pocket or handbag, that way you won’t have to accept another plastic bag or payout for one when stocking fillers catch your eye and lead to unplanned shopping.
Be original when it comes to wrapping your Christmas presents and re-use something you don’t need. Newspapers with meaningful features, colourful magazines and even old curtains or fabrics will stand out from the crowd under the tree. Not only will you give the materials a short-lived second life, you’ll also save a bit of money on wrapping paper.
Buy your colleagues energy saving light bulbs or mini home compost kits for a sure Secret Santa winner. Most people haven’t got round to green friendly gadgets yet, even though they’d love to try them out so this way there’s no excuse not to get the gifts straight into action.
Christmas produces an estimated extra three million tonnes of rubbish in the United Kingdom most of which comes from wrapping paper and cards. Don’t forget that this type of waste is highly recyclable. Whether you re-use the cards and paper for next Christmas or you separate it all for your home collection, there will be a phenomenal amount that you can recycle to stop it sitting in the ground for hundreds of years.
The Soil Association and the Forestry Stewardship Council have teamed up to approve sustainably managed Christmas tree farms from across the United Kingdom. You can find your local farm in the Soil Association’s directory at www.soilassociation.org. Don’t forget to treat your old tree as organic recyclable waste. Most local authorities will run a Christmas tree collection scheme in January.
A vegetarian diet is now deemed to be up to eight times more environmentally, economically and financially sustainable than a meat diet. Make a New Year’s resolution to cut out one meat or fish meal per week and go veggie. Try a caramelised butternut squash with maple syrup and red onion and warm nut stuffing for something different on your plate this year.
Remember to talk this Christmas. Talk about the weather, talk about the world and listen to opinions and new information. Remember that we have the opportunity to make a better life for ourselves and our future generations. Eco living is about self improvement and reflection.