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Changing up Christmas, one degree at a time ! (Part 2)

Last week we brought you Madeline’s top tips on how we can all be more sustainable this Christmas ! If you missed it you can read back here –

This week we hear from Dr. Tara Shine – check it out below.

PART  2 – Tara’s tips! 

  1. Three years ago we bought a living Christmas tree, in a pot, for the same price as a cut tree, and it’s still perfect. We leave it outside and drag it in each Christmas. It means we’re not buying freshly cut trees year on year and that feels really good. In Ireland, 600,000 Christmas trees are harvested each year. Interestingly, the main contributor to the environmental impact of your tree is from transport. The further the tree travels or your drive to collect it, the bigger the carbon footprint. After Christmas try and get your tree to a local tree recycling point (some councils even offer a pick up service), so that it can be turned into mulch for gardens. Try and avoid your tree going to landfill where it slowly decomposes giving off methane gas, a potent contributor to climate change. An artificial tree is an option if your store it well and use it over and over – but buying a cheap one and throwing it out after a year is not a good idea. The Christmas tree industry is a big contributor to the Irish economy, especially in rural areas – so try and get yourself a live tree and enjoy it for years! It will save you money, you get the real pine smell and reduce the amount of plastic paraphernalia in your house at Christmas.
  2. I make a point of buying the very best, local free-range turkey I can get my hands on. There’s so much choice out there and supermarkets can make some prices very attractive but, for me, doing a bit of groundwork and sourcing a bird that comes from a trustworthy supplier and has lived a good life makes all the difference. Plus, it always tastes amazing! And use every bit of it, for pies, curry, sandwiches and stock.
  3. I try not to over buy when it comes to presents. Buying one good quality item instead of piles of stuff (aka tat), even when it comes to stocking fillers, just makes so much sense to me. And people appreciate it much more when they get a gift that lasts and they know you have put some thought into it. So make a list, stop and think and avoid panic shopping. Also bring some bags when you go to town and avoid the glut of paper bags you end up with after a day’s shopping – there are only so many you can reuse.
  4. We often travel up to Northern Ireland over the holidays so we have to be really mindful of not buying too much food – it’s too long a drive to bring a car full of left overs. Besides, the shops are only closed for a couple of days and if you are going to be out visiting family or friends or travelling during the holidays build that into your plan and avoid the need to throw good food out. I do my best to shop just for the days we’re at home and if you have more than you need freeze it, give it to a neighbour or re-gift it – no one (with any sense!) will refuse your lovely food!

Obviously, none of this is rocket science but avoiding waste and unnecessary consumption (i.e. buying stuff) makes a big difference. They say the average household produces 20% more waste over Christmas. It is lovely to give and receive presents and to cook and eat good food – but an emphasis on the quality and not the quantity feels good. And that applies to quality time with our loved ones too.

Happy Christmas folks and here’s to an exciting 2020!


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