How can you maximise your Christmas celebrations but still minimise the impact on the environment? Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray of Kinsale-based Change by Degrees offer some sustainable choices.
We are often asked which tree is the best to buy for Christmas. In Ireland, 600,000 Christmas trees are harvested each year. Interestingly, the main contributor to the environmental impact of your tree is from transport.
The further the tree travels or you drive to collect it, the bigger the carbon footprint. After Christmas try and get your tree to a local tree recycling point (some Councils even offer a pick-up service), so that it can be turned into mulch for gardens.
Try and avoid your tree going to landfill where it decomposes giving off methane gas, a potent contributor to climate change.
An artificial tree is an option if your store it well and use it over and over – but buying a cheap one and throwing it out after a year is not a good idea.
The Christmas tree industry is a big contributor to the Irish economy, especially in rural areas – so try and get yourself a live tree in a pot and enjoy it for years.
It will save you money, you get the real pine smell and reduce the amount of plastic paraphernalia in your house at Christmas.
Keep it local
Don’t forget to shop local this year. Never has it been more important to support the store owners in your area.
There are so many stores with Click and Collect options that ensure your goods get to you without exposing you to undue risk.
Every euro spent in a local shop right now is an expression of support to those struggling to keep afloat and keeps your community alive and thriving.
If you know someone who seems to always have a single use face mask on, now is the time to treat them to a reusable one for Christmas.
Single use face masks are causing enormous plastic pollution, littering our streets and countryside. A high-quality reusable one is the perfect gift.
They can be washed and worn repeatedly and cause none of the littering problem that single use ones do.
Food, glorious food!
Food has become a great focus for people in these Covid times – people are experimenting with recipes and order in all kinds of interesting dishes from restaurants.
Try to ensure that all the packaging that your takeaways or food gifts come in are disposed of correctly. Check if the cartons are recyclable or compostable. Also, this year, we all may overcompensate for lack of company with a surplus of food (that may never be eaten!) so it’s wise to shop smartly.
‘Remember the simpler ways of connecting with people – send a card or, even better, a letter’
We throw one in three bags of food into the bin uneaten throughout the year and this increases even more at Christmas.
Try and shop just for the what’s needed and don’t forget your freezer – it is your best friend.
Write a note
Technology has played a massive role in keeping us connected this year.
We spend hours on WhatsApp, Zoom and Houseparty, and more.
Our digital footprint is larger than normal, as are the emissions that go with making it.
Remember the simpler ways of connecting with people – send a card or, even better, a letter, to loved ones this Christmas and explain in words how much their friendship has meant to you over the last eight months.
Being outdoors relaxes and calms us all and we’ve discovered the most magical places within our locality for walks and cycles.
Don’t forget to spend 20 minutes outside every day over the holiday.
It improves your mood and boosts your energy, things you will value heading into 2021.