Make green the new white - tips for an eco-friendly Christmas

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Want to save money and do your bit for a healthy planet this Christmas? Then check out the tips below for making Christmas greener and surprise your family and friends with your creativity!

Friends of the Earth's Head of Climate Change Mike Childs said: "There are lots of things people can do to go green and save cash at Christmas - from buying local and organic food to recycling your tree.

"Simple steps like these can help cut carbon emissions and protect our planet's precious resources, helping us create a cleaner, greener future."

1: If you're buying a real tree, plant or recycle it after Christmas. If it has roots on you could plant it in your back garden or you could donate it to a woodland or park. If it does not have roots – don't try planting one that does not – contact your local council to find out if they can help you dispose of it for recycling.

Please do not dump it in some farmer's field, a road ditch or local open spaces such as park. While a real tree is a natural product, so to speak, and over time will biodegrade they do look unsightly.

2: Shop local – try to buy as many of your Christmas supplies from nearby farms and community shops. Supporting local food suppliers will help reduce carbon emissions, boost trade in your area and give you a range of fresh and local food to choose from.

3: Gifts don't have to be brand-new or expensive to make someone happy! Browse through second-hand shops, and here especially Charity Shops, where you do good at the same time, or search online to find classic accessories, retro furniture, original books, traditional games and toys to help take the pressure off our planet's dwindling resources.

Also, it does not have to be a shop-bought, second-hand or not, gift. Give handmade presents and there is even now still time to make something yourself to give to someone.

4: More than half of all car trips are less than five miles. Enjoy the quieter roads, cut your carbon emissions and work off the festive excess by making local visits on foot or bike.

5: Re-use wrapping paper or find green alternatives. Wrapping paper is often too beautifully designed to throw away so you could save it instead for crafts projects or to use next year. You could also wrap up your presents in cloth or decorated boxes.

While it may sound stingy another quirky alternative for bought wrapping paper is using pages from newspapers, especially using comics section or such.

6: Send electronic Christmas cards instead of paper ones – they can be just as personal as posting a card and save you money and time as well as being kinder to the environment. To send a Friends of the Earth e-card this Christmas, go to

7: Buy Christmas presents from charities to support worthy causes. Go to for good value books for adults and children on topics such as ethical living, saving money and gardening.

The other alternative, mentioned already, is buying second-hand gifts from Charity Shops run by the various charities in Britain, such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, Save the Children, etc.

8: Back planet-friendly food and farming this Christmas by buying organic. Organic food tastes better and is free of pesticides – a win-win for your health and the planet.

9: Go energy efficient this Christmas by changing to a green energy supplier like Good Energy, which buys all of its electricity from renewable sources of energy.

10: If you are buying battery-operated toys for your kids buy rechargeable batteries for those toys (two sets) and a charger. They no longer, especially in the right places, such as Lidl, cost a fortune. In fact recently at Lidl rechargeable batteries were less per set of four AA or AAA then you'd pay for non-rechargeable ones.

11: If you're getting a new mobile phone this Christmas ethically recycle your old one. Go to for details.

© 2009