LONDON, Dec 10 — Christmas is a time of plenty — and the season of abundant food, gifts and merriment creates a hefty climate impact and millions of tons of waste each year.
As awareness about climate change grows, many people are aiming to cut waste and enjoy an eco-friendly celebration.
Below are 10 ways to cut emissions and waste at Christmas:
1. Ditch the Christmas jumper. They normally contain plastic and are often only worn once or twice. Those who cannot resist the trend are advised to re-use last year’s jumper or buy second-hand.
2. Driving home for Christmas? It could add a load onto your festive emissions. Taking the train or bus is a lower-impact way to travel than car or plane. Those who cannot avoid driving could consider car-pooling.
3. Get a real Christmas tree: a plastic tree has to be used for about ten years to be greener. Arranging for a tree to be recycled as mulch or compost after Christmas lowers its impact, and some firms offer tree rentals.
4. Beware greenwashed consumerism: green products create a “warm glow” for users, according to a study by Canadian researchers, but consider whether green branding is being used to sell unnecessary items.
5. Deck the halls: twinkling lights with LED bulbs are more energy efficient, while anti-waste groups suggest re-using decorations and swapping flimsy plastic home decor for compostable greenery.
6. Opt for a vegan meal: vegan food is a major trend and has a lighter climate impact. Switching from a turkey Christmas dinner to a nut roast with all the trimmings can reduce the meal’s emissions by more than half.
7. Pull your own crackers: store-bought varieties are a major source of waste. For a greener alternative, make your own crackers using old toilet roll tubes and add home-made gifts.
8. Reduce unwanted gifts: give experiences instead of things, or switch to a family ‘secret Santa’ system where people only buy gifts for one or two others — limiting the strain on the environment.
9. Wrap it up: try to avoid gifts that come in excessive packaging and ditch glittery wrapping paper, cards and advent calendars as they cannot be recycled. Instead, wrap gifts in plain parcel paper or newspaper.
10. Get talking: climate experts say mass awareness and lobbying is needed to bring change. Bringing up the issue over Christmas dinner might raise awareness — or at least provide a lively debate. — Thomson Reuters Foundation