How to have a greener Christmas in Norfolk
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Dreaming of a green Christmas? Helen Leith, Direct of Campaign to Protect Rural England Norfolk, has some ideas
There can surely be no more excuses now for not considering our carbon footprint when making lifestyle choices. And at Christmas, the internet is awash with worthy advice on how to lower our environmental impact while still celebrating the festive season, from the condescendingly obvious to the well-I-never whacky.
You don't need me to tell you to buy fewer pointless presents, throw away less food, reuse your wrapping paper, turn your cards into next year's gift tags and think twice before driving marathon distances, but...
1. Did you know you can rent a living Christmas tree? More and more garden centres will deliver and collect to save you the hassle and the tree can carry on growing after it's returned. Of course make sure it's sustainably grown by looking for either the FSC or Soil Association logo.
If you do buy a cut tree, when you're finished with it, take it to the council recycling centre so it can be mulched into compost.
2. I am biased here but, speaking as a dealer of recycled antiques, I always think antique/vintage presents are so much more fun and original as a really thoughtful gift. And their carbon footprint is negligible.
I would much rather receive a beautiful antique piece of jewellery than a modern piece - and they are usually no more expensive. If you have never visited Albrow & Sons in Norwich then you must - it's an Aladdin's cave of antique sparklers.
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3. Support your local markets and buy from local producers rather than cheap imports. Ele and Me in Wells-next-the-Sea sell gorgeous hand-made, sustainably sourced and fair trade wooden toys which have a timeless appeal and will probably outlive the recipients!
4. 'Experiences' rather than objects are increasingly popular as gifts - they have the added bonus of supporting a local business and you can't send them to landfill. The choice is enormous - how about a charcuterie course at the Marsh Pig in Claxton, or sailing a traditional wherry on the Norfolk Broads with Richardson's Boating Holidays? I am driving the point home by buying my brother a much-needed acupuncture course with Dr Ye.
5. We are blessed to have a cornucopia of wonderful local artisan food and drink in Norfolk. Proudly Norfolk is the body which promotes this fantastic industry and buying locally-produced wares supports jobs and business as well as dramatically reducing the carbon cost of buying food which has been transported from the other side of the country or overseas. After your Norfolk Christmas lunch you can take a low carbon-impact walk in the beautiful wintry countryside to work it off!
6. And then there is the seriously worthy option of giving to charity - the choice is endless, of course, but how about giving to the Woodland Trust so they can plant more trees - proven as the most effective carbon sink? Friends of the Earth are campaigning for a doubling of tree cover in the UK, which is a beautiful idea.
And, dare I say it, how about the gift of a membership to CPRE Norfolk, the countryside charity working so hard to protect our beautiful county from unnecessary and damaging development, another contributor to climate change?
Whatever you do, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas filled with love, the greatest gift of all.