‘Tis the season to be jolly! Christmas has just passed and we are all still caught up in the warmth and goodwill of the holiday period. Presents have been torn open and have been decked out and decorated. All sounds great, eh? But how these have you ever stopped to consider how Christmas traditions are ruining the environment and helping contribute to the current climate crisis?
Each year, around 25-30 million real living breathing Christmas trees are cut down in the U.S alone.This is obviously terrible for the environment as trees not only provide oxygen but also act as sponges for carbon emissions. Therefore, without trees, global warming will continue to escalate. The alternative is of course, artificial trees. However, not enough of us know that these are also terrible for the environment. This is due to the fact that, according to The Guardian, a single 6.5 ft fake tree has a carbon footprint that is equivalent to 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions.
So what’s the solution?
Well, there are many.
An obvious one is to recycle your Christmas tree. A fake Christmas tree can be stored till next year, and the year after that, and the year after that : you get the gist of it. And a real one can be replanted. If you don’t have a garden to plant your tree in, try renting a real Christmas tree instead. Several companies allow you to rent a real tree out for a few weeks. They carefully dig the trees out, so as not to break their roots, and replant them after your rent. This way Christmas trees don't go to waste. If you prefer a fake Christmas tree, you can buy a second hand one or borrow one. This way, you are reusing trees and saving them from being dumped in the landfill.
Of course, you can also make DIY trees! What about decorating a small plant that you already have or making a Christmas tree ladder? This way, you won’t even have to buy a tree!
Every Christmas, Britain uses around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper: this is enough to almost reach all the way to the moon! Around 4 full rolls are used per each average household. From that huge amount, over 83km squared of it ends up in the bin. But why is this bad for the environment? Well, per 1kg wrapping paper, 3.5kg of CO2 is emitted for it's production. Imagine how much CO2 is emitted for just the wrapping paper that Britain uses! And wrapping paper takes a long time to decompose. This is due to the fact that glitter, bows, tape and others may not decompose. But what can we use instead of wrapping paper? It’s easy to use other materials such as newspapers and magazines that you have already read. And it’s not necessary that you have to use paper. You can decorate a box or bag with christmas decorations and put your present in that. If every American family wrapped just 3 gifts in reused materials, enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields would be saved! So it’s important to use alternative options to wrapping paper and make Christmas more eco friendly.
Did you know that the average British person spends over £40 on wasted food each Christmas? And collectively, Britain bins 230,000 tonnes of unneeded Christmas treats. It might not sound like a big deal. Food decomposes right? Yes, but as it rots and degrades, food emits harmful gases that are 25 times stronger than Carbon Dioxide. Around one quarter of man made greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food waste - and if food waste was a country, it would be ranked third after the U.S and China in terms of greenhouse gas production. So how can we cut down on food waste at Christmas? It’s actually quite easy. When you go shopping, stick to your list. Don’t get distracted by offers and sales, as you will only end up buying more. But how do you make the perfect list? Try to plan your meals in advance. On the weekend, you could come up with a menu for the week. This way, you will know exactly what to buy. If you do end up with some extra food, remember that storing things in the freezer can help preserve them. And it’s not just ice-cream. You can store things like fruits, nuts, flour, potatoes, milk, and others in the freezer to preserve them too! If you do end up with leftover turkey, try to eat it another day instead of dumping it in the waste. Hopefully, you’ll start wasting less food by using these tips.
There you go! Some important things to note over your jolly Christmas. Remember, it’s not hard. These things save money, but still work! Remember to spread the message. A green Christmas is the best Christmas!