At GHE Homes, we’re passionate about making a sustainable lifestyle affordable for all. That’s why the houses we build feature energy-efficient materials and insulation and a whole range of options to make your energy bills pay for themselves! Whilst we strive to be as eco-friendly as possible throughout the year, it can be difficult to stay on track during the festive season. Christmas is a time for fun and frolics – and let’s face it, excess! Between food, gifts and visitors how do you try to keep your carbon footprint to a minimum and not put a dampener on the festivities? Here are top 5 ways to have a renewable Christmas – without ruining the fun or the environment!
1. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
Deck the halls and go for a real Christmas tree. The Carbon Trust tell us that a ‘2 metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than twice that of a real tree that ends its life in landfill – and more than 10 times that of real trees that are burnt.’
Clearly if you already have an artificial tree at home, the best advice is to keep reusing for as long as you can – at least 10 times until it has an equal carbon impact as a real tree in fact.
If you do buy a real tree, try to find one that was grown without using pesticides – the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association have over 400 registered growers who all comply to strict regulations ensuring their trees are as environmentally friendly as they can be.
Then when Christmas is over, make sure to recycle your tree by either replanting it, or taking it to be chipped and used on your garden. Last year, of the six million trees used across the UK, only 10% were recycled – the other 90% went to landfill. Check with your local authority or garden centre as many will offer a recycling service.
Our final tip is to use LED fairy lights on your tree as they’re by far more energy-efficient – and may save you a few pennies too!
2. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
At Christmas most of us will overspend, buying gifts for our friends, family and loved ones. The environmental impact of that is huge; between the carbon miles used to transport those gifts – to and from the high street and increasingly through online shopping – through to excessive packaging, it’s tricky to find ways to protect our environment and still find the perfect present for the people you care about.
So how do we minimize the damage?
i. First try to reduce the amount of battery operated products you buy – or invest in some rechargeable batteries.
ii. Buy local or buy less. Each Christmas, 4,000 tonnes of products arrive from China. Presents bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimising your carbon footprint.
iii. Buy vouchers or experiences – saves on packaging & wrapping!
3. A partridge in a pear tree
When it comes to festive fayre, try to buy locally produced food and support local shops and farmers.
Avoid waste by planning ahead. We all buy way too much and each year a colossal amount of food is simply thrown away. So take some time out to plan how much food you really need and don’t be drawn into mega bundle offers that will sit at the back of the cupboard to be thrown out in February.
It’s always a good idea to defrost your freezer before you do your Christmas food shop. Not only will it make your freezer more energy-efficiently over the holiday season but it’s a great opportunity to use up those items that rally need eating before they end up being thrown away.
A great tip for cutting down on packing waste when buying the Christmas booze – buy bigger bottles! Now that’s a plan we can support!
And finally, don’t forget to put all those peelings in the compost bin.
4. Baby, it’s Cold Outside
The weather is currently unseasonably warm but if we wake up to a frosty Christmas, try turning down the heating by just 1 degree. Chances are you will have a houseful of guests who will all be generating enough heat so you won’t feel the difference in your home, but you will in your pocket.
Other simple tips:
i. Keep the curtains closed to help prevent unnecessary heat loss.
ii. Turn off your appliances at the mains to save huge amounts of energy.
iii. Turn off the lights in rooms you aren’t in and make a pledge to switch to low-energy lighting next year.
5. Peace on Earth
When the festive fun is over for another year, we hope that you’ll be joining us on the annual post-Christmas pilgrimage to the local tip. This year, try not to just load up everything in big black sacks, destined for the ‘general waste’ section. It’s worth the effort to sort the rubbish ready to go into glass, tins, old clothes, paper & cardboard and electrical so that anything that can be recycled is!
Here’s a useful link to find your nearest recycling centre along with information on what can be recycled.
The team at GHE Homes wishes each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to bringing you more information about our fabulous homes for affordable sustainable living in the new year.
Merry Christmas Everybody!