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GREENING CHRISTMAS
         

ACHIEVEMENT: Christmas time involves giving something back to the environment, as well as our friends and family.

TARGET DATE: 25 December each year PROGRESS: Some.

DESCRIPTION: Each year as Christmas approaches, those more fortunate amongst us who give presents each year, think about how much we give contributes to the planet's future well being, or whether there is more we can do that reduced any unnecessary waste or adverse environmental or social impact on the planet and its people.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Some 2005 ideas and stories about Greening Christmas are shown below.

'TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS AND ALL THROUGH THE LAND, PEOPLE WERE A' WONDERIN' HOW GREEN WERE THE CHRISTMAS WE'RE ABOUT TO BE HAD.

With a day to go before Christmas, Maelor Himbury, the good spirited information hound who collects news from all around the world, passed on these information tid bits from around the world on the greening of Christmas.

Consumers need carrots, not sticks, to make 'green' choices - EurekAlert 12 Dec 2005

With the amount of shopping days until Christmas fast running out, consumers who would like to make 'green' choices are often helpless to change their behaviour, according to research at the University of Surrey. The project, which was funded by ESRC, warns policymakers that eco-taxes and information campaigns have only a limited impact on how people behave. 'Many people care about the environment but they are stuck in unsustainable patterns of behaviour because they just don't have access to reliable, affordable alternatives. It is wrong to assume that they have free choice in the matter,' says Professor Tim Jackson who carried out the research. 'Consumers need practical incentives to buy 'green' goods and services and a very clear signal that the government is putting its own house in order.'

The Surrey findings are based on a study of the extensive literature on consumption, consumer behaviour and behavioural change. 'Many studies have found a kind of insatiability and irrationality in modern society. People buy more and more stuff - way beyond what they appear to need,' says Jackson. 'But consumer goods play important roles in defining who we are and giving a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives. Asking people to give all that up, without offering decent alternatives, is not really an option.' The research also highlights the social constraints that face more deprived communities in their efforts to act more sustainably. 'Poorer households have less money to afford organic foods, more efficient appliances or fair trade goods,' Jackson explains. 'But they also face a raft of other disadvantages. Access to a clean environment, affordable public transport and convenient recycling facilities are often worse in more deprived areas.'

It isn't all doom and gloom however. The Surrey research documents a range of options open to policy-makers seeking to encourage more sustainable lifestyles. 'Government has a vital role to play in nurturing and supporting community-based initiatives for social change: neighbourhood wind farms, school transport plans, car-sharing schemes, cycle routes and better recycling facilities. Social support is vital in encouraging people to break unsustainable habits,' Jackson says.

'Tis the season to be ... wasteful? (13 December 2005)

Christmas may be be the traditional time for over indulgence, but officials are urging the public to try to keep waste to a minimum.

Gobble gobble: English families are expected to get through 16.5 million turkeys this Christmas

Defra and national recycling campaign Recycle Now have teamed up to drive the message home and are asking people not to let their eyes get bigger than their bellies. According to the team investigating Christmas waste, English families will bin an incredible 160,000 tonnes of food over the festive season, enough to fill a flotilla of skips that would fill the Channel between Dover and Calais more than five times over.

3,000 tonnes of foil will be used on wrapping the nation's turkeys alone.

Once wrapping paper, unwanted presents, trees that have served their purpose and all the rest of the seasonal waste is added into the equation, Christmas generates over three million tonnes of municipal rubbish.

The waste reduction team has enlisted the support of TV chef Kevin Woodford. "At Christmas the heat is on to cook bigger and better meals, and time pressures mean we've become reliant on ready prepared food, which is time-saving but packaging heavy, rather than making things from fresh produce," he said.

"We also end up throwing away leftovers rather than use them to cook up another tasty meal.

"It's really easy to create a traditional Christmas feast that is much tastier, and often cheaper, by buying good quality meat and vegetables and sticking to what you need rather than buying lots of food 'just in case'."

The chef has come up with a list of common sense tips to cut food waste.

Confirm how many people you're cooking for so you buy only what you need.

Plan ahead and make a shopping list. It saves a second trip to the shops if you've forgotten something and also avoids waste, as you'll only buy what you need.

Buy your fruit and vegetables such as sprouts, loose and not pre-packed and look for other festive goodies with less packaging. This is good for your pocket as you are buying what you really need and means there is less packaging in your bin. You also get to choose the best items.

Remember to put your fruit and vegetable peelings into your compost bin.

Avoid putting out large quantities of perishable food - cold meats, cheese, bread and salads - and remember to put leftovers back in the fridge.

Think of how left-over food can be used to make another meal instead of being thrown away.

Local Environmental Quality Minister, Ben Bradshaw, said: "We've become used to a throw-away culture for left-over food. But this is wasteful and creates environmental problems.

"This Christmas Britain will generate millions of tonnes of rubbish, most of which will languish in landfill sites. This needn't be so.

"Recycling is easier than it has ever been before, so everyone can do their bit. Even better, avoid throwing it away and use up left-overs."

Julie Brown, of Recycle Now, said: "An extra bin bag of rubbish for every household in the UK of food waste alone is a significant amount, and it would be better at this time of year if we cut back on the waste and the money saved ended up in our pockets instead of our bins.

"It's really easy not only to cut down on the amount of food we waste, but also to remember to recycle as much as possible, especially over Christmas. It's never been easier to recycle.

"Eight out of ten local authorities now provide doorstep collection services for a range of materials - including paper, card, glass, metal cans - and we would encourage people to use them."

Deck the gums, it's Yuletide Down Under - By Bridie Smith, Barney Zwartz and Jane Holroyd, The Age, 17 December 2005

If you haven't noticed, it's the silly season - time to deck the halls with crates of Bolly and enjoy the pine things in life.

It may seem that there is no such thing as a traditional Christmas, what with Christmas cards taking a backseat to e-greetings and text messages, black Christmas trees challenging the traditional green variety and the turkey playing bridesmaid to snags and prawns. But some things, such as unwanted gifts, afternoon naps and left-overs to last a month will never change.

Gifts

According to the Australia Institute, an independent public policy research body, more than half the Australian population will receive an unwanted gift this Christmas, while 21 per cent will give presents to people without wanting to. Although the results, from a Newspoll survey of 1200 people, don't define what these gifts are, odds are there will be a set of lavender-scented draw liners in there somewhere. Research fellow Emma Rush said 66 per cent of people from households with incomes over $70,000 received unwanted presents as opposed to 38 per cent of households with an income under $30,000. She also said richer households were more likely to give to people they didn't want to.

According to online retailer eBay, gifts that will be well received this Christmas are games consoles, iPod Nanos and the Robosapien V2 toy robot. Borders reports that Harry Potter books and the Da Vinci Code will again be top sellers this Christmas.

Tree

Rather than change the Christmas decorations on the tree this year, some people in Europe are changing the colour of their tree - to classy black or a bright fuchsia pink. Sales of coloured trees are on the rise in Britain says The Guardian, where small trees are sold by online retailers for about $19. And for those who like the pine things in life, there is always the real thing. Fabio Iuele, purveyor of fine pines at the North Pole Christmas Tree Farm in Craigieburn, said most people spent about $40 on their Christmas tree, opting for one about two metres high.

Food

Sure, the traditional Christmas lunch consists of turkey with all the trimmings followed by a hot plum pud with melted brandy butter. But here in the Southern Hemisphere we like to do things differently - Down Under, seafood and barbecues rule. Restaurateur Gary Mehigan believes Australians are abandoning the heavy European-style Christmas lunch in favour of seasonal Australian produce.

Seafood Industry Victoria executive director Ross McGowan said many people were opting for snapper this year for their Christmas roast. Lobster and prawns were also popular choices, with hundreds of kilos of seafood expected to be devoured this Christmas. But Planet Ark warns consumers that this is a time of year when our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. The organisation estimates that each year Australians throw away nearly 3.3 million tonnes of food. And that doesn't include the scraps that go to the four-legged members of the family.

Religion

C and E worshippers will fill Melbourne churches to overflowing next weekend. That's not Church of England, but Christmas and Easter.

Christmas, above all, is the time many nominal Christians or even non-Christians want to feel connected with their cultural and religious roots.

Many busy Catholic churches will have three special Christmas services - one for the children of the parish school, one for families and the traditional midnight Mass.

Melbourne's Catholic Vicar-General, Monsignor Les Tomlinson, says church attendances over the Christmas weekend will nearly double the usual Mass numbers. Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins agrees. "People are looking subliminally for good news, and the whole story of the vulnerable child is easier for people to enter into than the Passion (at Easter)," he says.

"The magic of the midnight service captures people's imagination. You can imagine the shepherds asleep, the angels crying out. It's coming across the threshold with the symbolism of the nativity scene, the blessing of the crib, the processions, well-sung traditional carols - it's very evocative. There's magic in the air."

At CityLife, Melbourne's biggest church, numbers will rise for Christmas services, but it's not the biggest day of the year, according to senior pastor Mark Conner. Guest speakers or special message series often attract bigger congregations, he says.

Money

It's not all about the material gift - although most Australians will spend between $600 and $1000 on gifts this year with books, clothing, CDs, homewares and toys topping the list of purchases, according to market research company StrategyCo.

But there are alternative gifts such as a donation to charity or a voucher to camp out with the animals at Melbourne Zoo. Brian Walsh from website ourcommunity.com.au, which allows people to donate to any of 670 Australian-based charities, said the number of individual donations made through the site last December was up 110 per cent on 2003.

Novelty gifts of the expensive variety are available at Myer, which launched its pamper packs this year. The most expensive pack costs $2800 - a jet fighter flight, Top Gun style. CommSec chief equities economist Craig James predicts retail trade will increase 6 per cent to $23 billion this December from $21.7 billion last year.

Stress

It's not news that Christmas shopping can be stressful. But apparently it rates up there with workplace anxiety. According to a national survey by BankWest released this week, Christmas shopping causes as much stress as deadlines, problematic co-workers and difficult bosses. Symptoms associated with the thought of crowded shopping centres and finding the money for presents include heart palpitations, sweaty palms, lost sleep, the survey found. And then there are the bills in January. Steve Kane from BankWest said this was one of the most stressful aspects for people at this time of year, with one in five respondents naming financial concerns as their top Christmas worry.

Shopping

StrategyCo research shows that 4 per cent of Australians started their 2005 Christmas shopping at the Boxing Day sales last year - the majority surveyed (31 per cent) said they hit the shops between December 1 and 15, while 27 per cent of the population are mad - they leave shopping to the last week before Christmas. The amount spent buying gifts is under $1000, while most purchases (60 per cent) will be made on credit card and EFTPOS (21 per cent).

Booze

Almost 930 drivers were breath-tested between December 23 last year and January 6, with the highest reading recorded .307. Of those tested, 184 recorded readings of .05 to .069 ($314 fine and 10 demerit points), 248 drivers registering .07 to .099 ($314 fine and six months licence cancellation) and 195 people recording readings between .100 and .149 ($440 fine and between 10 and 14 months licence cancellation).

A further 77 drivers with blood alcohol readings of between .150 and .307 had their licence immediately suspended and were given a summons to appear in the magistrates court.



Recycle for a greener holiday 16 Dec 2005, By Perry Beeman, Register Staff Writer, Des Moines Register

You'll have to depend on the weather for a white Christmas, but you can make the holiday green yourself. Green, as in environmentally friendly.
The gift-giving season creates an especially heavy load of waste - and a big chance to recycle.

Many Iowa recycling programs accept more than you might think: nonmetallic wrapping paper, the tubes the paper came on, catalogs and old greeting cards, for example. Live Christmas trees - an organic, renewable resource - often are chipped and turned into compost or mulch.

The experts say the holiday season brings a 25 percent boom in trash. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the United States churns out an extra million tons of trash a week from Thanksgiving to New Year's.

The nation's discarded ribbon - 38,000 miles worth - is enough to tie a bow around the Earth. Think about reusing it, or skipping ribbons and bows, environmentalists urge.

Many Iowans still do not realize that much of the heap can be recycled.

Weyerhaeuser Document Destruction and Recycling's paper recycling plant in Des Moines sees little of the yuletide castoffs, said Machele Henderson, general manager.

"I suspect they are just throwing it away," Henderson said. "We see about the same volume. We should be seeing a lot of wrapping paper."

Wade Den Hartog, 31, of Des Moines just tosses the stuff. He visits his parents in Sheldon for the holidays, so much of his holiday trash stays there. His apartment in Des Moines has no recycling service.

"It's just something I don't mess with. I feel kind of guilty about it," Den Hartog said.

"If I had more information about drop-off centers, and they weren't 30 miles away, I might use those."

Weyerhaeuser and another Des Moines firm, Mid-America Recycling Co., collect paper from the Curb It! residential recycling program in the Des Moines area, and bundle it for sale.

Some of it is used to make cardboard in Cedar Rapids. Some ends up in cereal boxes in the Twin Cities.

Most of the holiday paper apparently ends up in the landfill as people clear out the clutter following the holidays.

Sarah Rasmussen follows these things. She's a spokeswoman for Metro Waste Authority, which runs landfill and recycling programs in the Des Moines area.

The agency doesn't see much of an increase in the trash load at the landfill or in the recycling bins at the holidays - except for the ubiquitous cardboard boxes.

In fact, trash loads drop all winter before hitting annual highs in the spring cleanup months, Rasmussen said.

"We've looked for a few years, and we really don't see much of a bump," she said.

Natural Christmas trees generally are recycled. They are chipped and added to yard wastes to create a compost sold to developers and others for yards, construction sites, golf courses and other locations. Across North America, 33 million natural Christmas trees are sold each year, the federal government reports.

Artificial trees, of course, are reused the next year.

Dreaming of a green Christmas Dec. 18, 2005. By Stuart Laidlaw in the Toronto Star

Have yourself a Kyoto-friendly Christmas. Make your yuletide green.

Environmentally green.

The holiday season, with its turkey and trimmings, cakes and cookies, is about much more than gifts and gift giving. It's also about food. Lots and lots of food.

That's one reason gyms are so busy in January.

But this year, with Canada having recently hosted a pivotal United Nations' climate-change summit in Montreal, it seems fitting to examine the environmental impact of the feast.

Specifically, how much carbon dioxide was spewed into the air to get that feast to your table?

Among environmentalists, there is a growing discussion of the perceived benefits of locally grown food. It has even led to a fledgling push within the organic food industry to look at how far food travels to our plate.

"Most people don't make the distinction between food and climate change," says Wayne Roberts, policy co-ordinator of the Toronto Food Policy Council, part of the city's board of health. He's among those encouraging consumers to buy more local food to cut down on the carbon emissions they create by simply buying groceries.

The thinking goes like this: if more people buy locally grown food, less will have to be imported. That, in turn, will cut down on the amount of food shipped long distances by truck, plane or boat, all burning fossil fuels and spewing out greenhouse gases.

To test the theory, the Star cooked two meals - one with exclusively imported foods, the other with locally grown. We then compared the carbon emissions generated in transporting the foods for the two meals to Toronto.

"It's important to understand your carbon footprint," says Michel Girard, director of climate change at the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), which assisted in our project.

Preparing the meals were Bruce Leslie and Michael Dixon, who will be souschef and chef de cuisine at Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner, a restaurant opening at the Gardiner Museum in the spring. They currently work with Kennedy at his wine bar on Church St.

The two in-demand chefs donated their fees for the day's work to the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund. The food they cooked went to the Touchstone Youth Centre in East York.

We cooked only one turkey, since Canada's supply management system virtually ensures that all poultry sold here is raised domestically. We also had both imported and domestic wines, choosing nouveau entries since they are only available at this time of year, and bottled water.

Leslie and Dixon, despite their preference for local foods, agreed to come up with our imported trimmings, choosing a Caribbean theme of mango and ginger chutney, candied Jamaican yams with almonds, fried plantain, creamed spinach, and mandarin oranges - all made with exclusively imported items.

Helping put together the local dishes were the nutritionist and the cook at the Big Carrot organic store on Danforth Ave., Julie Daniluk and Katherine Hall. To supply what Daniluk termed a "fun menu" at this time of year, they relied on produce that stores well through the fall and winter - meaning a healthy portion of root vegetables.

The local-food offerings: cranberry sauce, rosemary potato pie, roast maple winter vegetables, shredded beet and carrot salad, and baked apple with maple syrup.

The difference between the two meals, with the turkey figured into each, was startling.

Getting the food and wine to our table from Ontario sources resulted in 369 grams of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. The imported dishes and wine contributed a whopping 15.71 kilograms - 42.6 times the carbon dioxide from the local food.

Our turkey came from a Mennonite farm near Wallenstein, Ont., just outside of Elmira. That's just 117 kilometres away, and in the heart of Ontario's turkey-growing district. Getting the 9.42-kilogram bird to Toronto by truck released 177 grams of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The calculations were done using a website developed with Girard's department at the CSA, which works with companies to figure out their carbon output and find ways to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The Star's Carbon Counter, a variation on others developed by the CSA so companies can measure their greenhouse gas outputs, is available at http://www.ghgregistries.ca/thestar/news.cfm

Proponents of local foods like to point out that buying food close to home keeps the money in the province, rather than sending it out of the country.

"There's a multiplier effect," says Stephen Bentley, a graduate student of regional planning at the University of British Columbia researching the impact of local food buying.

"The money stays in the local economy and circles around."

Last year, Bentley conducted a study for Toronto's Foodshare, a non-profit food delivery group, comparing the carbon emissions from a lamb dinner made with local produce with one using imported foods, including New Zealand spring lamb.

His results were even more startling than ours.

The imported meal resulted in 100 times the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the air - 11.89 kg for his imported meal, compared with 0.12 kg for his local meal.

Most of that was due to the lamb, which was shipped almost 14,000 kilometres to Toronto and led to carbon emissions of 8.4 kilograms, compared with 0.007 kg for the local lamb.

Canada imported $20.4 billion worth of food last year, including $5.8 billion in fruits and vegetables. Most of that was from the United States, including $835 million in food from California alone.

Around the world, international trade in food has tripled in the past 40 years, jumping to $510 billion by 2002, with almost 900 million tonnes of food being shipped from one country to another each year.

The impact of such booming imports and exports can be quite high, Bentley says.

For instance, he found that carrots from California contributed 840 grams of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, compared with 15 grams for carrots grown in Millgrove, Ont.

Canada imported more than $98 million worth of carrots from the U.S. last year.

Daniluk at the Big Carrot says Canada need not import so much food, though she confesses a weakness for pineapples and avocados.

Root vegetables can be stored and sold all year long, she says, giving a nice alternative to the lighter, more watery vegetables eaten in the summer.

And while greenhouses are already a big industry in Ontario, providing local vegetables almost all year round, she adds, more could be done - such as putting greenhouses on rooftops in the middle of the big Toronto market.

One City of Toronto study is already looking at the potential of such enterprises, which could have environmental benefits and give people guilt-free leafy vegetables at any time of the year.

In Daniluk's words: "You can have your lettuce and eat it, too."



Give peace
a chance in the Santa battle By Julia Baird, Sydney Morning Herald December 22, 2005

IS MATERIALISM really ruining Christmas? Pope Benedict seems to think so. Recently he warned: "In today's consumer society, this time of the year unfortunately suffers from a sort of commercial 'pollution' that threatens to alter its real spirit." He advised Christians to celebrate soberly, and with nativity cribs.

We all know who the real target is here: Santa. That crusty ole bearded gent. It often seems to be a showdown between the man from Nazareth and the man from the North Pole at this time of year, as hot, tired, grumbling shoppers protest against a crass materialism which they believe turns a celebration of the birth of Christ - and time with family and friends - into an orgy of greed.

In the first South Park episode ever made - a short film produced in 1995 as a Christmas card that was not aired on TV but gained a cult following on the internet - Jesus came back to Earth to smack down Santa, who he thought was destroying his birthday.

With the help of the bug-eyed, constantly swearing boys, Jesus tracks down Santa in a shopping mall, and cries: "You have blemished the meaning of Christmas, for the last time, Kringle!"

Santa responds: "I bring happiness and love to children all over the world!"

Jesus reminds him: "Christmas is for celebrating my birth!"

And Santa retorts: "Christmas is for giving!"

A brawl ensues and the four boys stand there transfixed and torn - which one should they help? Jesus reminds them God is watching them and that He died for their sins. Santa wheedles: "Stan, remember the choo-choo when you were three?"

It's a tough one. Even if one is a cartoonish fictional figure and the other said he was the son of God. And even if one is a pagan, mythical creature who lassoes childish imaginations and brings mystery to the ritual of giving, while the other was born in a dirty manger and came to bring peace and goodwill.

It's a simple distinction. Santa is for kids. The New York Times reported yesterday that the number of letters sent by American children to Santa is booming, even in this email age. There were 400,000 letters sent last year, with even more expected this year. Five years ago there were 280,000 and in 1993, 65,000. Santa is still a magnet for childhood dreaming and hoping, over-exposed as he sometimes may be. Despite this, each year the great Santa battle continues, and is waged by cranky adults who believe he is making us miserable.

This year, a La Trobe law lecturer, James McConvill, called for a ban on Santa in any advertising material and films. Writing in Online Opinion, he argued: "If we are to pursue a Christmas that is more conducive to human happiness, Santa Claus must go. Santa Claus is largely responsible for the materialistic circus that Christmas has become. These days, as early as October, Santa gets wheeled out and his head is thrown on commercials advertising anything from bras to the latest in barbecue technology … As Kasser and Sheldon write in their paper, Santa is a secular version of Christ 'whose realm is that of material abundance'."

The paper McConvill refers to is by two academics, Tim Kasser and Kennon M. Sheldon, and was published three years ago in the Journal of Happiness Studies. They interviewed 117 people aged between 18 and 80 and asked them about their emotional state during Christmas. They found that people were happier when Christmas was about family and religion, and less happy when it was all about spending money and buying gifts. It won't surprise many women to discover older blokes tended to have the best time at Christmas, as did those who were environmentally conscious.
But studies like this can pose false dichotomies.

Presents do not equate to materialism. Or they don't have to. Nor are presents separate to family, or even religion.

Which is why it is understandable but still odd that everyone mutters about commercialism at this time of year. It is so easy to avoid. If you hate the pressure of buying expensive gifts, buy cheap, thoughtful ones. Make something yourself, write personal cards. Or if even that is too much, offer your time - to mind someone's children, walk their dog, proof read their essays, help in the garden. The point of it all is to spend your time thinking about other people - what they like, what they need, what might make them happy.

It's true Jesus was anti-materialist. But he was also about selflessness and giving.

Santa is just a temporary, childish extension of that. An often joyful one. Whatever you believe, we can surely all agree Christmas is about love, and trying to express that love for each other.

No one won the brawl between Jesus and Santa, by the way. They both apologised, and Jesus offered to buy Santa an orange smoothie. Which sounds about right.

Merry Christmas everyone. jbaird@smh.com.au

Dreaming of a ‘green’ Christmas? Try Friends of the Earth’s twenty top tips - FOE (UK) Nov 15 2005

Are you dreaming of a `green' Christmas? Well, even if you're not, you can enjoy the festive season by taking inspiration from our ideas for presents, parties and decorations which won't cost the earth.

Presents

Try flea markets, antique jewellery and vintage clothing shops for gifts - you'll be giving a unique present, as well as recycling. Indulge with a local, organic hamper made up from the local farmers market or give gifts of locally-brewed beer or organic wine. If you're talented in the kitchen, you could make chutneys, cakes, or chocolate truffles as presents. Or make your own flavoured organic olive oil, adding dried chillies, garlic or herbs to a pretty bottle and filling it up with oil. Treat people to a special experience instead of an item - such as theatre tokens, annual membership of a gallery or a weekend at a spa. For budding eco-enthusiasts, `Save Cash and Save the Planet', published by Friends of the Earth and Collins, is packed with ideas on how you can save money and help the planet. www.savecashsaveplanet.co.uk Take your own re-usable shopping bags with you when you do your Christmas shopping. Around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas. Cut down on the stress of choosing presents if you've got a big group of people to buy for, by organising a `Secret Santa' - agree a gift budget which everyone must to stick to, pick one name each out of a hat, then everyone only has to buy one present.

Food and drink

If you can, opt for seasonal local food and drink. A traditional Christmas dinner uses seasonal British produce and buying your food from a local market or grocer helps the local economy and cuts down on `food miles', which contribute to climate change. Buy loose rather than pre-packed vegetables - it'll help cut down on waste packaging. If you're having a party, avoid serving food and drink on disposable plates and cups - they will just add to our growing mountain of waste. Borrow extra crockery from neighbours. Many wine shops lend boxes of wine glasses, if you're buying supplies from them. Around half of the waste produced by households at Christmas could easily be recycled, but last year almost 90% ended up in the dustbin. Instead of throwing away all those sprout peelings, why not put your vegetable leftovers in a compost bin? Around 4,000 million sprouts are bought in the week before Christmas, so there's a lot of composting just waiting to happen. It's tempting to over-buy food at Christmas, but save yourself some cash by trying to plan menus for the holiday season. The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy. More than 10 million turkeys are bought and 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil are thrown away in the UK each Christmas - if you can't re-use the foil for cooking, make sure you put it in the recycling.

Christmas trees, lights, cards and wrapping paper

Last year we sent around 744 million Christmas cards. If all these were recycled instead of thrown away, it would help to save the equivalent of 248,000 trees. Choose charity cards and wrapping paper which have some recycled paper content. Try the Natural Collection's new paper range made of raffia fibres from the bark of the mulberry tree, coloured with sugar cane or banana. www.naturalcollection.com No trees are cut down to make it, as the fibres keep growing back. More than 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper will be used on Christmas presents, using the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees. Last Christmas, DEFRA estimated that 83 square km of wrapping paper ended up in UK rubbish bins. Indoor strings of Christmas lights don't use a lot of energy. If you really want to cut your energy use, you should swap your ordinary light bulbs for energy saving ones, which use a fraction of the energy and last on average 12 times longer. If every UK household installed just one energy saving bulb, they'd save over £80 million per year. If you buy a real tree, and more than 6 million of us do, check with your local council if they will recycle it. Many local authorities grind the trees into wood chips and use them to mulch gardens or parks, instead of dumping the trees in landfill sites.

 

Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

This site is written, authorised and maintained by David Risstrom , 377 Little Bourke St. Melbourne, Australiaand had more than 1,003,082 visitors and 3,052,017 hits when updated on Sun 23 April 2017.