Living a sustainable life is not always easy, but Jessica Könnecke gives her best advice on how to make a smaller footprint for christmas.
During Christmas time, most of us have full diaries. We are keeping a hectic pace and are constantly worried about finding the perfect gift for our friends and family. On Christmas Eve we then reach a consumption peak: Too much food, plastic wrapping paper everywhere and piles of gifts nobody will use. Here are five tips that will help you to reduce your eco-footprint this Christmas:
The Christmas meal certainly is one of the most important elements of Christmas. And during the grocery shopping you can ensure that your meal will be good for your family and the environment. Try to shop local or organic fruits and vegetables. In addition, think of the kind of meat you want to serve and how much. Meat has a huge impact on the environment and there are nice vegetarian alternatives or side dishes. The University of Oxford even found out that reducing meat could actually reduce your carbon footprint more that giving up your car. It is also crucial to be aware of the amount of ingredients needed. Nothing is worse on Christmas than to throw away food because nobody could eat it.
Who doesn’t love presents? Sure, everybody is looking forward to receiving Christmas gifts, but this does not necessarily have to harm the environment. Try to buy fair trade products or (hand made) products that are made my smaller, local businesses and think of presents that are really needed. Why not make a photo album or delicious cookies? A nice Christmas present does not have to be expensive, but valuable. Also, use alternative wrapping paper and avoid plastic wrapping. You can either look for old newspapers or buy recycling wrapping paper. When receiving your presents, keep the wrapping paper, so that you can reuse it next year.
Giving away Christmas cards has become a tradition that everybody sticks to. But to be honest, after receiving several cards, there are either hidden somewhere in the house or even thrown away. That is not sustainable at all. If you do want to make your own Christmas cards, send them as an e-card. You save lots of paper and people are not bothered where to keep them after Christmas. Should you have more time, there is the possibility to reuse materials. Usually we gather lots of extra papers and old magazines. Cut nice motives and sayings out of the magazines and create a nice card. This is much more personal and makes the recipient more keen on keeping it.
Lighting and Decorations
Christmas without any lights is no real Christmas. That’s okay. But try to reduce the number of lights in your garden, house or room. Also use LED lights if possible and turn them off when leaving the house. When buying decoration, pay attention to quality so that it can be used the next year. You can also make your own decorations, such as paper stars or garlands.
The central element of a perfect Christmas: The Christmas Tree. As a kid everybody loved to decorate it and to finally spot all gifts lying under it. Unfortunately, Christmas trees are everything else than sustainable. They usually have long transportation routes behind them and are grown on monocultures, where huge amount of fertilizers are used.
However, it is still better to buy a real Christmas tree than going for a plastic one. Often families even discard plastic trees after one or two years and it takes much longer for plastic trees to biodegrade. If you want to buy a real Christmas tree look for certified organic trees or inform yourself about local tree species. If you want to be creative, there are now event companies that rent trees or just build your own tree out of wooden strips for example.