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The 12 days of a Greener Christmas

24/12/2012

As festive celebrations take place across the country, Scots are being encouraged to spread seasonal goodwill by making greener choices this Christmas time.

More waste is produced at Christmas than at any other time of year.  It’s estimated Scotland uses over 30,000 km of wrapping paper – enough to stretch from Scotland to Australia and back again. And millions of glass bottles and cans will be disposed of – all of which can be recycled.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead believes that people across the country can play their part in making Scotland a cleaner, greener, place to live simply by taking small steps to reduce waste and adopt a greener lifestyle.  

He said:

“The festive season is a fantastic time to have fun, relax and enjoy quality time with the family. While Scots across the country are doing just that, it’s also important that we take a minute to think about the impact of our choices on the environment. By simply making a few greener choices this Christmas time, we can all play a part protecting Scotland’s stunning beauty and natural resources.

“Simple greener choices are all that’s needed - from reusing or recycling our wrapping paper and packaging, to planning meals and using up leftover food. If more people do these things, it can make a real difference, reducing the impact on the environment and saving money too, which will benefit families and communities all across Scotland.

“We are committed to creating a greener, cleaner Scotland now and for the future. If we all do our bit to reduce, reuse and recycle this festive season, we can work together to achieve this.”

There are lots of things we can all do to have make the festive season greener.  To help you get started, the Scottish Government’s Greener Together campaign has put a new twist on some old favourites.

The 12 tips for a greener Christmas time are:

1. Greener Christmas cards
Recycle your festive greetings cards or get creative reusing them for festive family fun or even preparing greetings cards or gift labels for next year which can help to reduce your Christmas waste this year and next.

2. Add a touch of nature to decorate your home
Use nature’s resources to dream up the perfect natural decorations this festive season – have a fun day out with the family to collect evergreen wreaths, pine cones and seed pods to make your home festive.  Decorations can be made from organic materials including cinnamon sticks, wood and dried fruit like orange slices or reusing last year’s Christmas cards.

3. Recycle your Christmas tree
Why not give your artificial Christmas tree and decorations another go next season and if you’re using a real tree take it to a collection point for composting? If your real tree has roots it can be planted in your garden after Christmas and dug up for display again the next year.

4. Save Energy
Remember to turn off your Christmas tree lights, and any appliances that are on standby, when you go to bed or if you’re out. Simply switching the lights off and even turning the heating down by one degree helps saves money and the environment.

5. Use rechargeable batteries
New gifts at Christmas often mean a lot of batteries. Batteries contain toxic chemicals and must be recycled properly.  Many shops now have battery recycling points, as do some town halls, schools and libraries - look out for the Be Positive signs to find out where you can recycle batteries. As an alternative, use rechargeable batteries or try the new AA size USB rechargeable batteries. By opening the cap and plugging into a USB connector, you can recharge them pretty much anywhere.  

6. Give unwanted gifts a new life
Rather than binning any unwanted presents or items you no longer need after Christmas, pass them on to be reused or recycle them. Charity shops will be happy to take good quality items off your hands and you can freecycle too. If they aren’t in good enough shape to be passed on, why not see if you can recycle them?

7. Eat in season
Scotland produces a huge variety of foods throughout the year, so it’s always better to choose flavoursome, in season food – especially at Christmas time.  Give your local producers a boost by buying the best of Scotland’s natural larder this festive season. For wholesome winter soups and stews, choose an in season ingredient and find a recipe that puts it to good use at:

8. Reduce food waste
You can make the food you buy for Christmas go further with some simple menu planning and careful storage to keep food fresher for longer. It’s always best to cook only the amount you and your family will eat. Why not use our recipe finder to work out how to use up those Christmas leftovers?

9. Recycle food waste or consider using a composting bin
Using a food recycling service (food waste collections, provided by local authorities are already available in some towns and cities, and will be coming to others soon) keeps food and drink that is thrown away out of landfill, and helps reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. You can also compost food waste such as banana skins, tea bags or apple cores in your garden.

10. Reuse wrapping paper
You can unwrap presents carefully and reuse the paper next year. And when it comes to presents we all know that kids often prefer to play with the packaging instead of the actual toy - so why not make the most of it and create a den, pretend car or even Santa’s sleigh to have fun with. Go to www.playtalkread.org for more fun-time ideas.

11. Use the car less
Plan your trips this festive season - write lists to prevent going back and forward for forgotten items, use the bus if you can or walk to local shops. Why not involve the kids in the spreading the festive season cheer? Take them out for a walk and get them to deliver local thank you cards in person, cutting down on vehicle use.

12.  Charity shop and vintage chic
You don’t have to break the bank to look stylish at Christmas time. Look out for classic outfits in your local vintage or charity shop. You can often find unique items tucked away at an affordable price. By mixing and matching, you can put together a statement outfit which will make your wardrobe dazzle this festive season.
 

Related information

Greener Together

Zero Waste Scotland

Energy Savings Trust