Living

A guide on how to have the ultimate ethical and green Christmas

1st December 2016
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There are many things in life that are taken over by the big corps – don’t let Christmas become one of them. As retailers are doing all they can to get you to part with your pennies and line their pockets (thanks to talking carrots, jumping boxer dogs, James Corden and big, big budgets), there is another way. This Christmas, we invite you to make your mark by embracing an ethical and green spirit, so you can leave a smaller one on the planet and a better one on the small folks (or elves should we say) who truly make Christmas sparkle. Together, let’s not forget what really matters this festive season.

Gift’s galore: what is a good green gift?

Christmas is undoubtedly a time for giving and receiving, sharing and loving (Joey knows it). It’s also an ideal time to exercise your spending power wisely and give a meaningful gift that your friends/mother/lover will rave about in years to come – rather than regret the skincare set that was ⅓ off but looks dodgy at home, away from the shiny high street lights. Broaden your ideas of what a gift could look like and you’ll set the wheels in motion for winning the in-family award for ‘most thoughtful gift 2016’.

Gift an experience

Try giving an experience or course where the lucky recipient will try or learn something new (this also handily requires little or no packaging). There are plenty of online and in-real-life courses out there to satisfy every curiosity. Help someone get to grips with all things sustainable with a course at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys, Wales, where they cover all aspects of green living: from environmental building, eco-sanitation and renewable energy to energy efficiency and organic growing. Help save ancient woods under threat and create new native woodland in the UK buy gifting a membership to the Woodland Trust. If they’re a foodie, consider fermentation, pickling and jam making with our award-winning producer Newton & Pott in Hackney or a casual afternoon whipping up British free-range charcuterie in the Norfolk countryside with Marsh Pig for the wannabe self-sufficient carnivore. There’s always foraging and mushroom hunting to be done too, just so it’s clear your friends and family know you’re a funghi to be with

Give less, give better

Don’t bundle up on gifts. Tempting as it may be to add on a few little extras here and there, it’s makes for a much better experience for the giftee to bask in the glory of one lovely, wonderful thing that needs no accompaniments. By giving less you’re also contributing less to the vicious cycle of cheap and disposable items that won’t see the light of day next December. Wave goodbye to presents without provenance and give a warm welcome to lovingly-made homegrown items that’ll last and are by ethical traders where the folks behind them are treated fairly. Try Nudie jeans that will literally last a lifetime with their free repair service and transparent production to boot. Or how about a mighty fine umbrella? Ince Umbrellas are the UK’s oldest makers and they pride themselves in a sustainable supply chain. Rest easy in the knowledge that the one thing someone living in Britain will always need is a proper good brolly.

Sustainably secondhand

Pre-used goodies might not scream Christmas, but you’ll be amazed at what you can find on sites such as Preloved or Oxfam where you truly can contribute to the reduce, reuse, recycle cause. The best thing outside of buying anything new at all is to buy something secondhand. Many items listed are brand new and have never been used at all, and some perhaps just once for a special occasion. If you have a certain gift in mind, spend a little time searching and you could save a lot of money and help the planet out too.

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Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

To buy a real tree or not to buy a real tree? Did you know 8 million Christmas trees are felled each year in the UK? The majority of which land in the tip a few weeks later. Some will say it’s not a proper Christmas unless you have the scent of pine wafting around the living room and yet many of the trees available in garden centres will have been intensively farmed on a big scale (you know how that kind of behaviour gets our goat) and some may have arrived at the petrol station forecourt via a long-haul journey from overseas.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are ways to bring the German-born tradition of a decorated tree indoors without leaving a huge environmental footprint. 95% of Christmas trees grown in the UK are on farms that provide habitat for wildlife. So whilst a freshly cut spruce is greener than an imported fake tree, here’s what you could do to be as green as possible when it comes to your Christmas tree.

Know where your tree is grown

To make sure your tree is grown in the UK, check out the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved trees (as well as cards and wrapping paper or even paper-craft to decorate the tree with to keep little ones busy) which are grown as part of a well-managed forest, minimising the use of pesticides and protecting forest plants and animals. The Forestry Commission have a list of Christmas tree sales centres where you can buy a sustainably grown, local tree. The Christmas Forest is small and independent family business who provide sustainable trees from 10 sites across London (or you can order online). Every tree cut after it’s nine-year growing cycle is replaced and for each tree sold, another is donated so it can be grown by a family in Africa through Tree Aid.

Go locally grown or organic

If you can’t get an FSC tree, you could try sourcing one that is organically or locally grown by a nearby farmer, which can provide benefits in terms of pesticide use and carbon footprint reduction as well as the added benefit of organic Christmas tree farms providing a rich habitat for wildlife. To find a retailer selling organic trees, head to The Soil Association’s website.

Rent, reuse or recycle a tree

Did you know it’s possible to rent a tree? You’ll receive your tree in a pot and it’ll be returned to the ground after Christmas so it can happily live on. Try Forever Green Christmas Trees, who serve Essex. Reusing a potted tree or using an existing (i.e. secondhand) fake tree year after year (and we mean year after year, rather than ever buying a new one and contributing to the mass-production horror that is fake Christmas trees) win you brownie points in the reducing-waste department. If you do go for a real cut tree, make sure it does some good to the environment by giving it to the council and recycling it – it’ll be shredded and then go on to be compost or wood chip mulch. Check with your council on their Christmas tree recycling scheme or try www.letsrecycle.com.

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Hello Christmas dinner (and some)

Know where your food comes from

There’s almost nothing sorrier than scrambling around a crowded supermarket, fending off the rest of London for the last sad bag of sprouts. Do whatever you can to avoid the stress of the last minute supermarket dash. Not only will you save yourself bags of time and energy, you also avoid contributing to the machine of mass-produced food without provenance that’s been sitting around in distribution centres, ready for the big Christmas rush. Not what you want for your festive feast, aka best-meal-of-the-year, right?

Source local food where you know how it’s been produced and where it’s come from. How can you know how your Turkey was raised? Go for a free-range or organic turkey from a source you trust. (Catch our farmers Nick & Jacob at Fosse Meadows with their turkeys on video. They really live life on the wild side and the guys would love to hear your questions!). And it doesn’t just stop at the farm. When you shop with us, your food is be delivered in our zero-emission electric Vanimals – so you can shop knowing you’re not contributing to London’s already shockingly high levels of CO2 and can still get everything you need, fresh from the farm.

Make a meal of your leftovers

The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy at Christmas. Save your pennies and the planet by planning in leftover dishes that you and the gang will really look forward to. Try a few simple tricks and tips, such as throwing leftover herbs into a frittata or going hell for leather on a cracking bubble and squeak. Make stock by roasting turkey bones and simmering them with water and leftover herbs – be the ultimate Christmas multitasker and leave it to simmer whilst your favourite festive film is on. Leave to cool and freeze in an ice cube tray and it’ll see you into the new year. And there’s always room for turkey tacos and a panettone bread and butter pudding…

Say goodbye to BOGOFFS

Avoid waste by resisting erroneous buy-one-get-one-free deals where you end up lumbered with a mountain of not-so-special sweet treats you and your family simply won’t need after all that tasty turkey and nut roast. Notoriously designed by supermarkets to get you to buy more, BOGOFFS aren’t there to help you, but help line their pockets.

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It’s easy to whip up gift tags with old Christmas cards.

Decorations and all the trimmings

During the festive season alone, in Britain we create 3 million tonnes of waste (gulp). We use over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, which creates over 83 square km of rubbish – that’s enough to cover Guernsey (blimey, let’s just call the whole thing off…). Together, we can ease contributions to the rubbish pile by using recycled paper and recycling it again after use. As alternative to buying anything new, try using old wallpaper, posters or even newspapers to artfully wrap gifts. Get your crafting hat on and embrace homemade decorations such as timeless paper chains and easy-as-pie snowflakes (if it’s good enough for Wes Anderson, it’s good enough for us). Try our 5 easy and sustainable DIY craft ideas that’ll reuse what you have at home and impress your guests with your crafty-prowess. Soon enough you’ll find yourself saying: ‘You won’t be able to find these beautifully handcrafted… foraged in a shop’.

Sick of the big companies owning Christmas? Big corps pay themselves at this time of year. We give our producers ¾ of the retail price all year round. Other retailers give as low as ¼. Got any ideas on avoiding the big companies at Christmas? Share your tips with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and together let’s enjoy a #CorporatelessChristmas. Fosse Meadows Turkeys are available to pre-order now! See all our Christmas goodies and the story of our producers.

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