Dream­ing of a green Christ­mas? Here’s how to make it come true

Have an eth­i­cal Christ­mas. Just put a lit­tle ex­tra thought into your dé­cor, your din­ner and your gift giv­ing. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

WHEN most peo­ple think of Christ­mas they think of snow, Santa and sack­fuls of presents, but Liam Pat­ter­son can’t help think­ing of the thou­sands of tons of plas­tic, wrap­ping pa­per and un­wanted gifts that will be shov­elled into dust­bins on Box­ing Day.

Liam is co-founder of York­shire­based www.eth­i­cal­com­mu­nity. com, a web­site that pro­vides a shop win­dow for eco-friendly prod­ucts from all over the world.

It mim­ics the al­ready suc­cess­ful for­mula used by the online mar­ket­place etsy.com, which spe­cialises in sell­ing items by de­signer mak­ers. Eth­i­cal Com­mu­nity shop­pers can learn the story be­hind each eco prod­uct and buy di­rectly from the sell­ers.

For Christ­mas, there are cards dec­o­rated with wild flower seeds that can then be planted and grown, drift­wood and pine cone wreaths, fair trade trees and a banana fi­bre na­tiv­ity set.

“It is hard to be green at Christ­mas but it is the per­fect time for peo­ple to fo­cus on what re­ally mat­ters , which is fam­ily, friends and the environment. With a lit­tle plan­ning, you can be more ecofriendly,” says Liam.

He and his busi­ness part­ner, Ja­son Dain­ter, launched their web­site 18 months ago af­ter Liam, 24, came up with the idea while study­ing at Leeds Univer­sity. He prac­tises what he preaches. “My brother is re­ally into comics so I have man­aged to find some old comics in a char­ity shop to wrap his Christ­mas presents in.

“That way the char­ity ben­e­fits and you can re­cy­cle the pa­per af­ter­wards.

“I also love the Furoshiki wrap­ping fab­ric from Ja­pan that sells on the web­site. It can be re-used ei­ther for wrap­ping or as a table­cloth af­ter­wards” says Liam, who uses fair trade dec­o­ra­tions for his tree in­clud­ing a Christ­mas an­gel made by of banana leaves by an African co­op­er­a­tive.

Axel and So­phie Steen­berg, who run Ripon-based Steen­bergs Or­ganic, are also ex­cel­lent role mod­els.

The cou­ple, who spe­cialise in sell­ing spices, teas and cook­ing ingredients, en­sure that their Christ­mas ta­ble is com­prised of or­ganic and lo­cally-sourced pro­duce, where pos­si­ble.

The cake and the pud­ding are cooked from scratch, as is their al­co­hol-free mulled “wine” made us­ing ap­ple juice.

The turkey is free range and the veg is from an or­ganic box de­liv­ery scheme, while or­ganic smoked salmon comes from For­man and Field.

Their Christ­mas tree is grown lo­cally and the Steen­berg’s dec­o­ra­tions are the ul­ti­mate in re-us­ing and re­cy­cling.

“We use the same dec­o­ra­tions that have been col­lected over the years. I love that they are fa­mil­iar.

“We also use the same Christ­mas table­cloths and a crib that be­longed to my mother,” says Axel, who sends char­ity Christ­mas cards.

The cou­ple, who have two chil­dren aged nine and ten, even have a re-us­able fab­ric ad­vent cal­en­dar with pock­ets you can put sweets and toys into.

As for gifts, they buy use­ful and prac­ti­cal presents such as food ham­pers, or­ganic soap and per­fume and Ox­fam Un­wrapped presents, such as a goat for a poor com­mu­nity in Malawi.

Axel and So­phie also in­sist on switch­ing off the telly and com­puter from Christ­mas Eve un­til the Queen’s Speech.

“We go to church, we eat, we talk and play games with no TV or com­puter to in­trude,” says Axel.

“It’s more re­lax­ing. Get­ting ready for Christ­mas is a mad rush but it’s worth it for the feel­ing you have on Christ­mas Day. That warm, homely, lovely feel­ing.” Eth­i­cal Com­mu­nity Tips for a Greener Christ­mas

We all love giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing Christ­mas cards but what do we do with them af­ter the fes­tive sea­son is over as they of­ten con­tain glit­ter, lam­i­nate and dyes?. In­stead why not choose seeded pa­per cards [http://www.eth­i­cal­com­mu­nity. com/hand­made-and-plantablepa­per] that can be planted to grow gor­geous wild flow­ers.

Spend­ing money on wrap­ping pa­per which is only go­ing to be torn up and thrown away is a bit of a waste. Make the wrap­ping part of the gift it­self by wrap­ping it in furoshiki fab­ric gift wrap, which is a fun and af­ford­able take on the Ja­panese art of “Furoshiki” (cloth wrap­ping). Any shape of ob­ject can be eas­ily wrapped with no sticky tape, no scis­sors and no waste.

Opt for an or­ganic turkey. It may be a bit more ex­pen­sive but it’ll be far health­ier for you and your fam­ily as or­ganic grow­ing pre­cludes the use of hor­mones and chem­i­cals. Try to source or­ganic pro­duce from lo­cal farm­ers, as buy­ing lo­cal will help re­duce emis­sions caused by food be­ing shipped all around the world. Opt for a fair trade tree and re­mem­ber that tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christ­mas pro­duce enough car­bon diox­ide to in­flate 12 bal­loons. So af­ter Christ­mas din­ner is over why not switch off the lights and re­lax in the light from some beau­ti­ful can­dles made with beeswax, which is nat­u­rally non-toxic and non-al­ler­genic. They’re a great al­ter­na­tive to paraf­fin wax can­dles.

WASTE NOT: Re-us­able fab­ric “Furoshiki” wrap­ping pa­per from Ja­pan, main pic­ture. Above, from left. Buy a fair trade Christ­mas tree for an even greener Christ­mas, Eth­i­cal Com­mu­nity founders Liam Pat­ter­son and Ja­son Dain­ter, www.eth­i­cal­com­mu­nity.com, and some wild flower seed cards.

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