FAMILY No plastic? No problem! Christmas goes green
*** ALL WRAPPED UP Is it possible to deck the halls and feed the troops without wrecking the planet? Hattie Garlick tries it, with expert help
‘Mum,” said my son at supper, “Do you know, Jesus was bored in a barn?” I suggested that he might be searching for the word ‘ born’. He considered. “No, ‘ bored’ is more likely. There wouldn’t be toys in a barn.”
It was then that I realised that my children had strayed from the key messages of Christmas. They are not, however, alone. In the UK, households produce 30 per cent more waste than usual during the Christmas break.
“We’ve got a Christmas problem,” says Clare Fischer of the Marine Conservation Society. “We view it as an excuse to indulge – in alcohol, cheese or plastic. After all, it’s Christmas…”
In fact, 114,000 tons of plastic waste ends up in landfill each year, alongside one in 10 unwanted gifts. The ecological cost is incalculable, as is the cost to taxpayers of disposing of it. But there is hope. “People are more aware of plastic,” says Fischer. “If consumers reject the amount used at Christmas, we can spark change. It’s happened with straws.”
A less wasteful Christmas doesn’t mean turning Scrooge, she says. “I’m a grandparent now, but when I was young, the house was decorated with real holly and mistletoe. If grandparents do that with children, it creates memories that last longer than plastic.”
In just such a spirit, I decide to see how hard it is to have my own plasticfree festive season.