It is that time of the year again: shops are setting up their Christmas decorations, Christmas markets are popping up across town and people are starting to get excited about the holiday season.
Sadly, this time also brings its own challenges with it: it is difficult to keep houses sustainably heated without the proper insulation and air pollution builds upon calm, cold days. However, there are a few things you can do to enjoy the season in an environmentally friendly way.
Add to diversity in your garden
If you have a garden, you can make sure that there are food sources for animals all year round. Mike Birkin, South West Campaign Organiser for Friends of the Earth, suggests: “Flowers that bloom early such as primrose or snowdrop and crocus can provide vital pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators as they awake and become active.”
There are quite a few animals that need to be protected over winter, such as the hedgehog. “Perhaps not so many of us think about bumblebees or the humble earwig whose needs are just as great. I only recently learned by the way that Earwigs are a gardeners’ friend, as they chomp their way through loads of aphids!”, says Mike.
Gardeners can help those animals by leaving areas undisturbed. Clumps of long grass, heaps of leaves, twigs, logs or stones are all potential homes for the creepy-crawly animals.
“Gardens are maybe more important for the big global environmental concerns than we at first think. our gardens are potentially a vast nature reserve, where we can manage land for the benefit of many plants and animals that are presently harried out of the wider countryside”, Mike says.
Sustainable Christmas Decorations
Up to 8 million Christmas trees are bought each year in the UK, meaning a lot of intensive production and waste. And while plastic trees might last for a long time, they take a lot of energy to manufacture. But there are a few options that might be a more sustainable choice for you this winter.
Mike suggests renting a tree: garden centres will often offer this service. They will pick up the tree after Christmas and it will be able to continue growing. However, you should check whether the tree is being grown sustainably. Another solution could be to grow your own tree which you will be able to plant in your garden after the festivities and use again next year.
Mike has a creative suggestion for wrapping presents: “When it comes to presents, make sure you don’t use wrapping paper that contains plastic. Instead, use brown parcel paper which you can decorate yourself, a nice activity over the holidays to do with your family.”