Dreaming of a green Christmas

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is still fighting to save 58 hectares of oak-hornbeam woodland near Hertford Heath and needs your help

OUR challenge is to raise �420,000 before the end of March or this haven for butterflies and birds at Balls Wood could be lost forever. In addition, our work for wildlife across the two counties includes promoting a concern for our local environment and the impact we have on it. Christmas in particular can be a time of excess - cards, wrapping paper, food, drink - all bringing with them their own wastage issues. So in this issue we've suggested some ways we can all cut down on what we put in our bins, and some of them are also ways to help us to reach our challenging target to buy Balls Wood. We hope you'll find our suggestions inspire you to celebrate a Green Christmas and support the Balls Wood appeal at the same time.Send a card and save a woodThis year, to reduce your environmental impact, show commitment to a great cause and support local wildlife, why not send electronic Christmas cards instead of traditional greetings? Apart from enjoying a greener Christmas, you'll also be supporting the Balls Wood appeal.We've had two electronic Christmas cards specially designed to suit companies or individuals. They include a space to send a short personalised message - and a company logo in the case of the corporate versions. We'll send you these two lovely greetings cards and all you need to do is donate your Christmas card 'budget' to us. We recommend a donation of �1 per card you plan to send, based on the cost of an average card and postage.All you need to do is input the email addresses of the people you're sending the card to, that's your Christmas card list dealt with - no 'signers cramp' and no missed postal dates! Remember, the more cards you send, the closer we are to saving Balls Wood.Buy a tree and save a woodRiverside Nursery (Lower Hatfield Road, Hertford, SG13 8XX) has shown its commitment to wildlife by agreeing to donate a fantastic �2 for every Christmas tree they sell this year to our Balls Wood appeal. At the time of writing this article we're also talking to other nurseries, so please see our website, www.wildifetrust.org.uk/herts, for the latest news. Be sure to buy your tree from one of them to do your bit for wildlife!Really wild gifts!Stuck for ideas for the person who has everything? Why not give them a wood, a water vole or a whole meadow of wild flowers? This year the Trust is offering some really wild gift ideas - from sponsoring a tree in our woodland nature reserves to helping orchids to bloom year after year on Trust grasslands. Other Christmas critters currently up for 'adoption' include barn owls, water voles or water buffalos, or even 'damsels and dragons'. Adoptees will receive a personalised adoption certificate, a factsheet about the adopted species, and a photograph. Or how about giving 12 wildlife-packed months of HMWT membership for Christmas? The membership pack includes two magazines and events programmes three times a year, a nature reserves guide and a copy of the brand new publication 'Wildlife Walks' - a guide to over 500 wildlife trust nature reserves across the UK. Gift membership starts from just �30 for an individual. Family membership packages include great magazines, posters and ideas for young wildlife enthusiasts.So for the gift that really does go on giving, send something wild today!Old trees for a whole woodOnce Christmas is over, even your old tree can help to raise money for Balls Wood. Aylett Nurseries in St Albans has been running a Christmas tree recycling service for many years - chipping and shredding old trees and giving the end product to a community allotment as a very effective mulch. For a nominal charge (based on where you live in the county) Aylett's can remove the chore of discarding your tree by collecting and recycling it. This year, they are donating �1.50 from the collection charge of each Christmas tree to our Balls Wood appeal. You can also take your tree to the Nursery yourself, where it will be recycled. In this case, we will be asking for you to match the �1.50 donation they would have made - collection boxes will be at the nursery.Tips to a greener Christmas1. Try to buy goods with packaging that can easily be recycled - or better still, goods with little or no packaging at all. Buying products already made from recycled materials also helps to close the recycling loop. Gift membership of the Trust, or any of our species adoption schemes, are virtually packaging-free and are great for local wildlife.

2. Re-use carrier bags or take your own with you when you go Christmas shopping

3. Put old wrapping paper in the cardboard recycling containers at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

4. Recycle clean pickle, jam and other glass 'luxury goodies' jars as well as drinks bottles.

5. Potato, Brussels sprouts and other vegetable peelings can still be composted through the winter, along with egg shells, old teabags and much more.

6. Old Christmas trees can also be composted - see the article (below left) to find out how your tree can save a wood. Or, check recycling schemes at your HWRC.

7. If a new printer, mobile phone or camera is on your Christmas list, don't forget that some charities can raise money from recycling the spare components, so don't bin unwanted or outdated electronic gear. HMWT raises more than �500 per year on your recycled printer cartridges and mobile phones alone.

For more ideas on waste and recycling, visit the Hertfordshire Wasteaware website www.wasteaware.org.uk or contact the helpline on 08457 425000.To find out more about any of these great ways to save Balls Wood or to discover more about the 46 other nature reserves we look after, visit www.wildifetrust.org.uk/herts, phone 01727 858901 or email info@hmwt.org