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With the average Brit spending £821.25 on Christmas and producing 30 per cent more waste than usual, the festive season can have a devastating impact on the environment. Here’s how to shop sustainably so your Christmas doesn’t cost the earth.
1. Avoid wrapping paper
The amount of wrapping paper used at Christmas is enough to reach around the equator nine times (!) – and it mostly can’t be recycled. Why not get creative instead with eco-friendly alternatives such as fabric, old music sheets or kraft paper to help reduce your waste.
2. Get an eco-friendly real tree
While artificial trees may last longer than living varieties, there’s currently no way for them to recycled in an environmentally friendly way. This means that, even if you re-use your tree for a number of years, it will still eventually end up in a landfill.
One acre of growing trees can produce enough oxygen every day for 16 people. Unlike plastic artificial versions, a real tree can also be easily recycled in an eco-friendly way: either chip it and compost it or take it to your local Christmas tree recycling centre. Some councils even offer a free collection service in the New Year.
3. Buy local
It’s always best to buy items that have been sourced, made or harvested locally. Think how far the product you are buying has travelled to reach the shelves. Less travel means less carbon dioxide emissions and, for fresh food in particular, it almost always tastes better. If you stick to buying seasonal produce, it’s more likely to have been harvested locally.
4. Avoid plastic
Avoid buying products that have been excessively packaged or are packaged in materials that can’t be recycled. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables loose rather than in plastic wrapping. Whenever you go shopping, always take your own bags with you. Plastic is a huge environmental problem, both in how it’s produced and how it’s disposed of. Locally-sourced goods tend to require less packaging as they are less likely to get damaged on shorter journeys.
5. Choose sustainable products
Choose products that have been responsibly sourced and produced without the use of harmful chemicals or pesticides. Consider buying Fair Trade or organic items, from food to clothing.
6. Send recycled or e-cards
This year over one billion cards will end up in the bin, when they could have been recycled. If you do want to send cards, choose ones with verified recycled paper content or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. E-cards are a much greener alternative. Recycle old Christmas cards you’ve received or give them to the kids for arts and crafts.