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.
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.