It’s officially the countdown to Christmas! So here’s Carys, our Student Ambassador for Green@CU, part of the university’s Environment Team who promote sustainability across the campus, with your guide on how to make your Christmas the most environmentally friendly yet. Share your ideas with Green@CU with #CUgreenxmas.
Day 1: Christmas Trees
If you’re buying a real tree, shop locally and look for organic, sustainably grown trees certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. No tree looks prettier than one grown sustainably, right? If you’re decorating with an artificial tree, there’s no need to buy new, you can reuse last year’s or look for second hand trees – bargain! An artificial tree has to be used for ten years until it’s as eco-friendly as a real Christmas tree.
Day 2: Recycled decorations
Change things up by creating your own decorations out of recycled materials. Your tree or wreath will look unique, creative and won’t cost the Earth. Some ideas include:
- Baubles made from bottle tops
- Old newspaper/scrap paper angels
- Bunting made from scrap paper or cloth
Day 3: Locally made gifts
Shopping locally has so many benefits as well as reducing the impact on the environment. You can find unique gifts while supporting local businesses. Added bonus points if you walk to the shop!
Day 4: LED lights
LED lights looks super festive, and they use up to 90% less energy than incandescent lights. Don’t forget to switch them off during the night though!
Day 5: Crackers
A Christmas dinner favourite. Look for eco-friendly crackers made with 100% recyclable materials. Avoid unnecessary plastic waste and buy crackers which only contain items that can be recycled, such as paper hats and jokes.
Day 6: Shopping bags
Going Christmas shopping? Make sure you have plenty of cotton/reusable bags handy. Plastic carrier bags often end up in landfill and take hundreds of years to break down. Cotton bags are much more durable and saves you being charged 5p every time.
Day 7: Gift wrap
The amount of wrapping paper thrown away in the UK during the Christmas holidays could stretch all the way to the moon. Did you know that glossy and metallic wrapping paper can’t be recycled? Make sure you use wrap that can be recycled such as brown paper, foil or newspaper. Or you could try something new by learning how to wrap gifts furoshiki style, using cloth such as scarves, to wrap gifts.
Day 8: Food waste
No doubt that Christmas is a great time to eat all your favourite foods. By only buying what you need, you can help to reduce the amount wasted over Christmas. If you do have any leftovers, check the labels to see if they can be frozen. Some councils recycle food waste, so check if yours does. If not, you could invest in a composter for your garden.
Day 9: Timers
Christmas lights look pretty but nobody will see them when you’re asleep! Put your Christmas lights on a timer so they aren’t on all day when you’re out, or all night when you’re asleep!
Day 10: Clothing
If you’re having a clear out, don’t head straight to the waste bin. Prevent your old clothes ending up in landfill by taking them to a local charity shop (even if they can’t be sold, the charity shop can still make use of them by sending them abroad). Or if you want a complete change of wardrobe, why not hold a clothes swap evening with your friends!
Day 11: Christmas cards
Over 1 billion Christmas cards are sent in the UK every year. Why not make your own from recycled materials, or if you prefer to buy them, looks for cards which are 100% recyclable and are made with sustainably sourced paper.
Day 12: Electronic waste
Around 915,000 tonnes of e-waste is produced in the UK each year. If you’re getting a new phone/tablet/laptop for Christmas, make sure you recycle your old one. Most companies will take your old item and recycle it, avoiding it ending up in landfill. Check with the company – you may even get some money back!