The Christmas season will always be my favorite season of the year.
Friends, Family and Food – What more can you ask?!
Yet, at the end of each Christmas, I cannot help but feel a pang of guilt on the amount of waste I created. Opened wrappers, half-eaten food and plastic toys are just a few of many things that contribute to my overwhelming sense of shame.
What really slams the nail on the head is the thought; If my own waste during this season is so high, what must be the cumulative waste of society?
Christmas lights and trees – The harbinger of environmental doom
Christmas lights look beautiful on snowy nights.
All houses during Christmas are filled with lights of every color. The sight can be beautiful and breathtaking. Yet these light bulbs are switched on for at least 7 hours a day. This emits enough CO2 to fill up 5 balloons!
Now imagine this happening every day for every single house.
NASA reports that Earth is almost 50% more lighted during the Christmas period. This might result in aliens spotting us more easily, but it also results in the disruption of many eco-systems. The lighted environment interferes in the sleep patterns of many animals (including humans).
Christmas trees, they bring pleasure at such ease.
Christmas trees are amazing to have in the house. Some of my most fond memories are of opening beautiful presents that were under the tree. Unfortunately, this year our artificial tree showed its first sign of decay; it cannot stand fully straight anymore. We will probably have to replace it soon.
Almost 5.3 million artificial trees are bought in the UK every year. These trees are produced in China, Taiwan or South Korea and are non-biodegradable. This means that they ultimately stack up in landfills.
Gift Wrappers – Pretty but deadly
The problem with gift wrappers is that they elicit a wonderful sense of surprise but after one use, they get thrown out.
Gifts and more gifts!
According to the telegraph, we can pretty much wrap the whole of Earth 500 times with the gift wrappers we waste.
There is also 4,500 tons of tin foil and 125,500 tons of plastic packaging used during Christmas.
Furthermore, it is quite sad to think about the number of resources required to make all these wrappers/packings.
Food – Not fun for the environment.
We eat almost 80% more food in December than at any time of the year. Almost 10 million turkeys, 370 million mincemeat and 205 million glasses of champagne are consumed each year during Christmas eve.
Why do we waste so much?
We waste a lot because we are buying more than we actually need. However, this is not completely your fault. There are many reasons for this indulgence in consumerism. Below are a few:
Advertisements are probably the biggest reason for our over-expenditure. I cannot walk down a single road without getting bombarded by how ‘tis the season.
Movies also play a great role in influencing society. Almost every Christmas film highlights the eating of a lot of food and the spending of money on gifts.
How to have a “green” Christmas?
If you have come to the realization that you did waste during this Christmas, then fear not! The past is the past and we should simply look forward to having a green Christmas next year.
Here are some alternatives to some of the things that cause a lot of waste:
Christmas lights – Rather than buying conventional Christmas lights, try to buy LED lights. They do not harm your wallet and cost much less on the environmental scale.
Christmas trees – I can understand why buying a real Christmas tree is expensive. But what about renting a Christmas tree? Many companies such as Freecycle are giving you the option to rent Christmas trees for a relatively cheap price.
Why not give it a go?
Gift wrappers – There are many alternatives to gift wrappers such as clay pots, grocery bags, reused gift bags, etc. Just be creative or look it up on YouTube!
The key to no waste is to be aware of your actions. Always ask yourself:
Is it really necessary to buy this?
Spend a few days planning out what you want to consume this Christmas. Take your time. Benjamin Franklin put it well:
Take time for all things, great haste makes great waste.