10 steps to reduce your carbon footprint this Christmas

With a little effort, we can all minimise our impact on the environment during the holiday season

Consider taking one of the many workshops running at this time of year and make your own decorations. Photograph: iStock

Consider taking one of the many workshops running at this time of year and make your own decorations. Photograph: iStock

 

Christmas can be a time of conspicuous consumption, but with a little effort, we can all reduce the impact of the holiday season on the environment.

We can do our bit by buying less and buying better. Being greener doesn’t necessarily mean sacrifice – there are many ways you can reduce your footprint over the break with minimal effort.

STEP 1: TRAVELLING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

If you have to fly home, use a calculator – like the one on myclimate.com – to determine the carbon footprint of your flight, which will then suggest a donation amount to a number of local and global climate protection projects for carbon offsetting. Once you’ve landed, try and stick to public transport, but if you have to use a car, try and carpool home with family, friends or colleagues.

STEP 2: THE CHRISTMAS TREE

Real or artificial? The debate continues: which is best for the environment? A real tree is compostable but an artificial tree might last you a decade. Ideally, you want a locally-sourced potted tree that can be replanted outside after the festivities.

STEP 3: DECORATIONS

Consider taking one of the many workshops running at this time of year and make your own decorations. Then give it a go yourself by adding your (newly discovered) craft skills to some foraged loot to fashion a Christmas wreath. And try to use LED lights for the tree.

STEP 4: WRAPPING GIFTS

Use recycled paper to wrap your gifts this year. Photograph: iStock
Use recycled paper to wrap your gifts this year. Photograph: iStock

Use recycled paper to wrap your gifts this year, and get creative – brown paper is the perfect canvas to apply your seasonal arts and crafts skills. Off you go down the DIY rabbit hole on Instagram – for inspiration.

STEP 5: CHRISTMAS CARDS

If you remembered to save them, re-use last year’s cards and send them as Christmas postcards this year – by cutting off the piece that contains last year’s message. Or instead of buying charity Christmas cards this year, make a donation instead.

STEP 6: SHOP LOCAL

Think local, think ethical. We Make Good is Ireland’s first social enterprise design brand. Selling products by some of Ireland’s best emerging designers and made by people facing social challenges, its Christmas shop is now open on Fade Street, Dublin 2. To order online, visit wemakegood.ie.

STEP 7: CLOTHES

Christmas party invites mounting up and nothing to wear? Resist the urge to stockpile the sequins this year and shop your wardrobe instead to rediscover some hidden gems. Reward your restraint by investing in a piece you’ll wear for many seasons to come.

STEP 8: GREEN GIFTS

Invest in a keep cup for that coffee fiend in your life. One keep cup, used once a day, could save hundreds of cups and lids over the course of a year. Or gift someone a Baggu bag. Baggu’s products are made with sustainable materials designed to minimise waste, last longer, and it has a long-standing partnership with its manufacturer, which is committed to ethical and environmentally responsible practices. baggu.com

STEP 9: SAVE ENERGY

That awful realisation that you forgot to switch off the Christmas lights or, heaven forbid, the immersion, and you’re miles from home? Fear not, a small investment in smart plugs, or a smart home app, will allow you to control everything remotely now. Save energy and enjoy the added bonus of a smaller electricity bill in January.

STEP 10: BUYING A CAR

If you’re splashing out on a car this Christmas, think about making the move to an electric vehicle (EV). They are cheaper to run and maintain, have zero exhaust emissions, and if you use renewable energy to recharge your EV, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions even further. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has a whole host of grants. seai.ie/grants