The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging families in Longford to embrace a greener Christmas this year!
While it may be the time of good cheer, Christmas is also the most wasteful time of the year. We are surrounded by family and friends but one friend we tend to neglect is our environment.
The EPA is challenging all households to ‘green’ the 12 days of Christmas this year. A good quality environment is vital to our health and wellbeing. We need to start caring about our surroundings and adopt behaviours in our homes that will protect where we live.
During Christmas week alone, households in Ireland are set to produce a minimum of 75,000 tonnes of waste – that’s the equivalent of 75,000 small family cars. More and more of us are trying to live a greener life and Christmas doesn’t have to be an unnecessary burden on the environment or your pocket.
Commenting on the tips, Dr Jonathan Derham, EPA, said: “The festive season and New Year presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on our attitude towards sustainable living. If each one of us made a few simple environmental changes in our lives those small changes will add up to big changes. We can all contribute to a greener future by implementing these over the 12 days of Christmas. Everyone can save money and cut down on the pressure placed on our environment in 2017 to incorporate and increase recycling as part of their New Year’s routine. Remember - by not generating waste, we eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of it.”
Here are 12 simple green tips that you can implement during the festive season and continue to during the New Year:
1. Christmas Lights: Use LED lights where possible – not only are they better for the environment because they use less energy, they last longer too! Some LED lights now are even solar-powered, eliminating the need to find an electrical outlet.
2. Deck your home with nature: Instead of spending money on artificial Christmas decorations that won't biodegrade, decorate your home with nature such as real holly and pine cones. Get your family or friends involved in making your own decorations from natural materials, and things you find around the home. Try popcorn, dough, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, pine cones, or flowers from the garden.
3. Food Waste: After prepping your Christmas dinner, and meals throughout the year compost as much of your food scraps as you can to reduce waste. Composting is very friendly for the environment and will also help eliminate waste. Think about what you’ll actually need and how many people you’ll be feeding. Create a food plan and consider how you can use left overs for meals the next day. Visit www.stopfoodwaste.ie for more tips on food waste.
4. Wrapping paper: Wrap gifts in festively decorated fabrics. They are biodegradable and reusable for example as a scarf or napkin. One of the biggest sources of waste every Christmas is wrapping paper, with more than 8,000 tonnes being used each year – the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees.
5. Connect with Nature: Take a nature walk with family and friends. Plan various walks during the festive season. We have some beautiful parks and countryside in Ireland, getting out in the countryside and fresh air contributes has a positive effect on your health and wellbeing.
6. Be battery wise: We can use a lot of batteries, particularly at Christmas. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, don't degrade and are difficult to recycle. If you have to use batteries, it may be worthwhile investing in items that use re-chargeable batteries, and make sure you always dispose of old batteries at designated recycling points.
7. Travel wisely: Carpool or use public transport where possible both for shopping trips and on Christmas day, and utilise carpooling to decrease fuel consumption and traffic.
8. Use a real tree: Real trees are carbon neutral, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as they grow and as they will emit when left to decompose. They are a naturally renewable resource, look and smell great in your home. If you buy one with roots or in a pot it can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year. Although artificial trees last for many years, they are made from metal and derivatives of PVC. They are not naturally biodegradable.
9. Send e-cards: Where possible, replace cards and letters with e-cards and emails to save paper and mailing expense. It also will reduce your carbon footprint since it eliminates the fuel used for transporting standard mail.
10. Recycle: Make a trip to the bottle bank and recycle all the extra paper, plastic and glass bottles. For more tips on recycling and what can be recycled visit www.repak.ie . Take the holidays too to gather up all deal electronic in your house and bring for free to your local recycling facility.
11. Keep warm this Christmas: Everyone loves a warm house at Christmas but remember to keep your curtains closed and doors shut; this will keep heat in and save energy. Also did you know, by turning your thermostat down 1 degree Celsius, you not only save money but reduce your carbon footprint too! After all we are geographically nearer to the Arctic Circle that we are the Mediterranean, so wear sensible clothes!
12. Choosing a gift: Gifts don't have to be wrapped. You could give "experiences," such as a movie night. Often we find ourselves giving a gift purely for the sake of giving something. Baked goods are often good alternatives, they don’t require much packaging, are creative, and very tasteful. If you receive a gift that you don’t need or want, a good option is to regift this to someone who will appreciate it more.
Households in Longford can all embrace a green conscience and still experience the joy of Christmas and make simple positive changes to our environment. If you make one resolution this New Year pick one that is sustainable. This change will positively impact your world and in turn your health and wellbeing due to a well-protected good quality environment. Visit www.begreen.ie to find further information on your options to live more sustainably and healthier.
Longford County Council can direct you to your nearest recycling facilities, or check out http://www.repak.ie/recycling_ facilities.php for a list of bring banks and recycling centres.