A Rocha UK have prepared a natural remedy for ‘festive fever’ in the form of bite-sized environmental tips to settle your seasonal challenges – from the thorny problem of Christmas trees to the drastic plastic of shop-bought decorations. Each tip is a practical plan to soothe the stress on both pocket and planet.
Family breakdown, health problems and debt are the festive fall-out for many. A Rocha UK wants to help people reclaim the meaning of this special time and enjoy the true “peace on earth” of Christmas.
Ten million turkeys are killed each Christmas. Make sure yours has lived a happy life by buying free-range or organic from a local farmer or independent retailer. Click here for information on different rearing systems used for turkeys. Book your bird early!
Christmas trees are a thorny problem. They mostly come from monoculture farms requiring high levels of chemical input. Artificial trees encourage production of oil-based plastic. Buy a Christmas tree that’s organic or FSC-certified and/or locally grown. Visit Fair Trees and British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Avoid the drastic plastic of shop-bought Christmas decorations. Make your own. Share your creations on our FaceBook page.
Keep Christmas cards to make Christmas tags next year. Discard or recycle the section that carried the greeting. Cut out the picture and use as a present tag. You’ll help reduce the huge amount of trees that are used to provide all our Christmas tags.
Buy potatoes and veg locally. Sign up to an organic ‘veg box’ scheme. Buying local produce helps reduce your energy footprint. You can also find out how the food was grown. How do you cook your vegetable accompaniments? Share your recipes on our Facebook page.
Use fabric remnants and ribbons as wrapping. For presents within the family, make simple draw-string gift bags in various sizes using Christmas material. You can store and re-use these for many years to come.
See how many of your presents you can buy from a charity shop this year. You’ll be amazed what can be found when you take the time to look.
Rent a Christmas tree. There are a number of such schemes. You get the benefit of a beautiful, live tree that doesn’t drop its needles. You also enjoy the pleasure of knowing it will be replanted later. Here are two such schemes, Christmas Tree Rentals and Christmas Rentals.
If you don’t have enough of last year’s wrapping paper for this year’s presents, use recycled brown paper and decorate the paper yourself. This has a much lower ecological footprint than Christmas wrapping paper.
Go natural with your Christmas decorations. Take a bag, go for a walk, and see what you can find. Holly sprigs, ivy trails, pinecones, rose hips and bark can all be used. Show us what you make on our FaceBook page.
Our high-meat diet causes environmental problems. These range from over-grazing of land and pollution to intensive water and fossil fuel usage. Why not have a meat-free Christmas lunch? Share your favourite vegetarian Christmas recipe on our Facebook page.
Put a £5 limit on presents for adult family members. You could donate the money you save to A Rocha UK to support our work in protecting and restoring the natural world.
Countless unwanted gifts end up in landfills. Give the gift of your time instead. Give the present of cooking for someone once a month for a year; taking them out for a coffee; babysitting; house cleaning – whatever is appropriate. Make a ‘gift voucher’ and put it in a card for them.
Christmas is about candles. But most are made from paraffin, which gives off harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases, as well as coming from the non-renewable resource of oil. Buy candles from beeswax, soy or other vegetable alternatives, or make your own.
How long do you keep Christmas lights on? Why not save them for a special hour each evening, or for when you have friends round, or for dinnertime, rather than keeping them on all the time?
Make sure your nuts are Fairtrade! These are now available in Co-op, Sainsburys, Tesco and various independent retailers. You’ll help overseas farmers make a decent living and encourage them to grow produce in a sustainable way.
Many beauty products given as gifts contain palm oil. Its production causes mass deforestation and air pollution, as well as human right abuses. Read labels carefully, avoiding products with non-sustainable palm oil. Click here for more information.
Empty jars make beautiful candle-holders, decorated with some Christmas ribbon. Make some for the Christmas table. If you have children, here’s a project for the holidays.
Christmas can involve much travel to visit family and friends. If you’re not able to go by public transport, offset the carbon emissions from your car travel at Climate Stewards.
Support farmers overseas by ensuring all your Christmas fruit and chocolate is Fairtrade. You’ll enable farmers from abroad to make a decent living and encourage them to grow their produce in a more ecologically sustainable way.
Sustainability is for life – not just for Christmas. Carry on caring for God’s earth by giving regularly to A Rocha UK. Your support will help us protect and restore the natural world in urban and rural settings across the country.
Make truffles. Bring 175ml double cream to the boil. Pour over 225g plain Fairtrade chocolate, broken into chunks in a bowl. Mix until chocolate is melted. Leave the mixture for 1½ hours until cool. Using a small spoon and dipping your hands in icing sugar, scoop out pieces and roll them into balls. Roll the balls into cocoa powder, icing sugar, chopped nuts or mixed peel, and place them on a tray with greaseproof paper. Leave to set.
Invite someone to join you on Christmas Day who’d otherwise be on their own. It’s an act of generosity and hospitality. It’s also a way of reducing energy consumption as they share your heating and cooking!
Tons of wrapping paper are thrown away each year. Get your scissors ready for opening up all those presents tomorrow. Using scissors rather than ripping them open means you can keep the paper to re-use next year.