At St John’s we have been working our way towards being better stewards of God’s amazing world. This has included an audit of our green credentials (currently achieving and aspirational), posting green updates and ideas for Living Well in God’s World www.bathandwells.org.uk/category/news/environment
We have also posted a number of ideas each Christmas to help us as individuals think about how to ‘do’ Christmas in a way that is more considerate of the world’s resources. This year we have some further ideas…take a look and see what you can do to contribute your small part. Also listed is a website with information on how to environmentally off-set the purchase of a real tree this Christmas, How do you turn a Christmas tree into a mango? www.wordforest.org/
Tips for a Green Christmas 2020
Christmas is a time of celebration of the birth of Christ, of reflection, of awe and wonder, of giving. As Christians we are called to care for God’s creation as reflected in our 5th Mark of Mission ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. During this special time, there are many ways we can do this whilst enjoying the season to the full.
Giving feels good but giving something that involves thought and planning and that doesn’t damage our planet feels better! Think ahead and plan to buy gifts that are sustainable and can be consumed with minimal waste or are reusable. Here are our top tips:
- Use your skills: challenge yourself, your friends and your family to make or upcycle your gifts for each other. Home-made is unique and full of love and thought. Jam, pickles and sweet treats, soap, art of any kind or hand-sewed items are all well received.
- Dig for second-hand treasure: charity shops, antique stores and even online selling forums are a treasure-trove of unique and useful finds. Buying second-hand is often much cheaper and prevents unnecessary use of resources and landfill use.
- Give the gift of time: Give hand written ‘tokens’ for trips out, a dinner date, ironing, car-valeting or anything that you can think of! These are especially good for children. They could be a set of 12 for monthly treats making the gift last the whole year!
- Gift Vouchers: Experience vouchers, meal vouchers, clothes vouchers or app-store vouchers for those who love technology! You can pick from so many and it ensures the gift you give won’t be wasted.
- Support Local Business: Choose locally made products, minimising the gifts carbon footprint and supporting your local economy.
- Waste Free: Consider the items you buy from a long-term perspective. How much packaging does it have? Is that packaging recyclable? Can the item be reused or is it part of a recycling programme? Some shops now offer in-store recycling/refill facilities for clothes, makeup and other items (e.g. H&M, Boots). Zero Waste shops within the diocese include:
South Somerset: www.facebook.com/pg/TakeNoWrap
Wrapping a gift adds to the wonder and surprise of recipients and our joy in giving gifts, but it creates so much waste and 3.5kg CO2 per 1kg paper! Here are our solutions:
- Upcycle: what have you got that you can reuse? Fabric, scarves and handkerchiefs make beautiful wrappings. 1 Million Women have a guide to Japanese fabric tying to make your gift look stunning! https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/how-furoshiki-japanese-fabric-wrapping/
- Recycle: choose recycled and recyclable paper and avoid glitter which contains microplastic which harms our aquatic environments. Brown parcel paper is durable and easy to use and can be personalised using ink stamps or art work. Don’t forget to use paper tape and natural string too- available from peacewiththewild.co.uk.
- Tag It: use old Christmas cards or upcycled paper and card from a scrap store. Try yeastscrapstore.co.uk.
We love to send and receive Christmas cards, and many of us already recycle them one Christmas is over but there are alternatives. Reduce waste and carbon footprint (especially for long-distance cards) by sending electronic messages or having a section on your church/community website or social media platform to send each other well wishes. If you do send cards- make your own from last years or try and buy those made with recycled card, avoid the glitter and buy those that support charities near to your heart. Chose those with minimal and recyclable packaging and recycle those you receive at your local supermarket or WHSmiths.
We need the joy of festivities more than ever, but decking your halls doesn’t have to cost the earth.
- Reuse and upcycle: charity shops and online sales platforms are a treasure trove of finds.
- Making your own: nature is the best decorator! Pop out for a walk and (carefully, legally and sustainably!) collect natural décor. Fir and holly, pine cones, twigs and chestnuts all look superb. You can oven-dry citrus slices or make traditional pomanders for a wonderful Christmas scent https://www.marthastewart.com/273214/pomander-how-to. Thread the slices onto natural string with popcorn, dried cranberries and other dried finds for beautiful natural ‘tinsel’. Sew, knit or crochet using what you already have to hand- these also make wonderful gifts!
- Buying New- avoid plastic and glitter. Look to buy from local artists and independent retailers and consider the life of your decorations. Can they be reused? If buying on line, search for ethical goods- try ethicalsuperstore.com.
There are multiple ways you can make a planet-conscious decision when it comes to choosing your tree:
- Fake it: Artificial trees are only eco-friendly if they are used year after year so the best option is to buy the most durable one you can afford and store it well between use.
- Make it: Winter twigs and foliage from your garden make unique features and display ornaments beautifully (look online for inspiration!). For a more unusual display- drift wood can be stunning.
- Grow it: Buy a tree in a pot from a local grower and plant it out after Christmas (if you have land or know someone who does).
- Choose it: If you choose a cut tree, buy an FSC certified tree or from a local grower. This ensures the trees are sustainably and responsibly grown and have a low travel footprint. Try monktonelmgardencentre.co.uk or www.rumwellfarmshop.com.
- Light it: LED lights use less energy and so have a lower carbon footprint. For outdoor lights, solar powered lights are an option.
Whether it’s for the big day or for whatever get-togethers restrictions allow, food is a big part of our celebrations. With a little forethought, you can help reduce 125,000 tonnes of food packaging wasted in the UK each year over the festive period- and the tonnes of food waste – saving yourself money as well.
- Farmers Markets: We have so many farmers markets across the diocese that offer locally produced food with minimum waste and a lower carbon footprint than imported or long-distance foods. See somersetfarmersmarkets.co.uk for listings.
- Farm Shops: We have so many in the diocese! See fabulousfarmshops.co.uk/somerset for a list.
- Zero Waste Shops– as under ‘presents’ above.
- Meat or Veg? If you are buying meat, choose local, high welfare meat. Chose chicken and turkey over beef, lamb or pork if you are seeking the most sustainable options. Consider vegan and vegetarian options for sustainable alternatives- local, organic and in season wherever possible. If you are a meat-lover or full vegan is not for you, you can still make a huge difference to your carbon footprint by choosing these options at one or two meals or more, per week.
If Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a cracker, there are lots of sustainable options. Hobbycraft make fillable crackers so you can add your own, non-plastic treat. Small consumables are good, or you could give everyone a ticket for a ‘raffle’. Whoever gets the lucky number could win, a small prize or maybe ‘win’ the washing up after Christmas dinner! Get creative with jokes and design your own party hats. Alternatively, you can make your own with fabric (see https://www.arosetintedworld.co.uk/reusable-fabric-christmas-crackers for a tutorial). If you are buying them, the RSPB has a lovely selection https://shopping.rspb.org.uk/christmas-crackers/ . As ever, look for plastic free, glitter free and recyclable options.
Produced by the Diocesan Environment Team who also asked the following;
‘Have we forgotten anything? Do you have any tips we can share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share them. We would also love to see your photos.’