Top Ten Tips for a Green Christmas

  • Christmas Trees : Real versus Artificial

    Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle urged people to buy real Irish Christmas trees this year. Are real trees also better for the environment? The answer might surprise you. Real trees are actually more eco-friendly than artificial trees. The #1 option is to buy a potted Christmas tree which is still alive. You can keep it inside for about a week afterward you’ll need to keep it outdoors. However, if one week indoors isn’t enough buy a real tree and compost it afterwards.

  • Buy Irish Trees and Compost

    Life Cycle Analysis shows that, if you buy locally grown trees, the carbon footprint will be much lower than that of artificial trees which are typically imported from China and cannot be recycled. Each conifer sucks up over a ton of CO² a year. Typically each tree cut down is replaced with one or two new trees in Ireland. Furthermore, trees brought to local authority depots are turned into mulch for parks, putting carbon into the soil. Locally sourced trees which are composted are sustainable and environmentally friendly. So if you prefer the fragrance of a real tree in your living room don’t feel guilty.

  • Zero-Waste Decorations

    Be creative and save on decoration expenses. Collect pine cones and use them to decorate your tree instead of manufactured baubles. 1.) Go for a minimalist approach and use sustainable materials such as cotton, silk or hemp to create bows and add colour. 2.) Use LED lights which are more energy efficient. 3.) Use a timer power strip to ensure the lights are off when you’re asleep or out of the house. 4.) Try using vodka or wine bottles as decorations by inserting led lights or candles into them and placing them on a table. 5.) Use fruit and berries to add colour and decoration to your tree and wreath.

  • Gifts and Gift Wrapping

    Make your gifts stand out by wrapping them in sustainable materials, wrap your gifts in organic cotton, hemp or silk and tie with some twine. Alternatively, use a container which is also part of your gift such as packing a gift inside of a clay flower pot and tie the saucer over it with twine. Otherwise, old maps and calendars make great gift wrapping, newspaper can also be used as wrapping.

  • Make your own wreath

    Wreaths are very easy to make and can be composed entirely of compostable materials. Collect some discarded conifer branches, pine cones, berries and apples to make a very tasteful wreath for your front door or office. Wreaths can also serve as bird-feeders and might attract some winter birds to your door.

  • Turn your recyclables into decorations

    Rather than buying decorations, get creative with your recyclables. Vodka bottles, wine bottles and even beer bottles can easily be repurposed as table decorations and candle-holders. You can make origami using old Christmas Cards.

  • Don't forget to recycle and reduce waste

    Refridgerate leftovers and use them up before they go off. Buy flowers and compostable materials to decorate rather than tinsel and plastics.

  • Gift 'experiences'

    Think about giving an experience as a gift rather than an object. An excellent idea for that picky family member or friend that doesn’t approve of your taste in chocolates, clothes, or even soaps. Trying for something that will create a nice memory to replace the physical object that you might otherwise buy. Buy cooking classes or a day out and take photos.

  • Ethical Gifting

    Christmas is here and, whether you’re ready for it or not, you needn’t compromise on your ethics to make it special. Gifting fair trade consumables can be a great way to promote the movement and raise awareness among family and friends of their power to by ethically. Wide ranges of chocolates, teas and coffees are available – remember to look for the fair trade logo to the left.

  • Make a list and check it twice

    Planning is the key to reducing waste this Christmas. Sit down and make some calculations about how much food you will need. Make a list, check it twice and stick to it! Remember that gifts mean a great deal to people and showing people your passion for the environment by choosing fair-trade products and sustainable gift wrapping can make your gift stand out.

    About the Author

    David Hayden

    David is a contributor to the Green News. He has a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and French from UCD as well as a Master's Degrees in French literature and New Media from the University of California at San Diego and the Johns Hopkins University.