Wednesday, 7 December 2016

My tips for a sustainable Christmas holiday

I've been thinking about seasonal sustainable tips for a flyer for our Lush charity pot party (on the 18th of this month). These are the tips I used, with a bit more detail than fits on the leaflet. I am sure you can suggest more.

Lovely Leftovers
Leftovers make ideal convenience food. They are already cooked and need very little processing to turn them into a quick meal such as curry, hash, risotto, wraps, soups. Roast vegetables, in particular, are extra tasty and it would be an appalling waste to throw them away. They can be used over the next few days or put in the freezer for later.  (Cambridge Sustainable Food has some recipes here.)

Also, a turkey carcass makes excellent stock. Just break it into pieces so that it fits in a stock pot and simmer for an hour or so. It takes less time to make stock from a cooked carcass than from raw bones. I use the stock for soups and risottos.

Real tree or plastic?
Artificial trees have a great deal more embodied energy and carbon emissions in them than 'real' trees. However, they are also a lot less hassle and don't drop needles. In practice, if you keep your artificial tree for 10 years or more then it really is not worth worrying about the carbon emissions. Ours is now 18 years old, or thereabouts.

Of course  you may prefer a real tree anyway. If so, then it is important to make sure it is composted afterwards. You can cut it up and put it in your green bin or on your own compost heap. Some people burn them for firewood but the fire service recommends against this. The wood has a lot of resin and produces sparks that can be dangerous especially if your chimney is not very clean.

Pure paper only please
We get through a lot of wrapper paper and cards at Christmas; I always use paper wrap, not foil because the foil wrap cannot be reycled. Glitter isn't ideal either, but this can be separated relatively easily. I remove the sellotape when I can, but this is not essential.  A couple of years ago I visited Palm Paper in Kings Lynn to see how they recycle paper into newsprint. The waste paper coming in was supposed to be good quality white paper but there were contaminants. Our guide told us sticky tape and cellophane sometimes clogged the filters in the fibre separation stage.

Sustainable Gifts
I think the most important thing for a gift is that it is something the recipient actually wants. Otherwise they might just throw it away which is a terrible waste! However, for additional sustainability hand made gifts are great (not necessarily home made) and fair trade stuff. Also gifts of your time and skills. There are lots more ideas on our website.

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