5 ways to enjoy a green Christmas

A woman in a blue fleece top, with a wedding ring on a finger of her left hand. She is reaching up w

Holly makes naturally pretty decorations so deck your halls with a bunch or two - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is sending this festive message to explain how you can spread your goodwill to the natural world this year.

Gifts
Buying gifts can be a challenge at the best of times, but don’t panic. Making sure you give planet-friendly presents isn’t as tough as you might think – here are some tips to help you along the way.

Look out for presents that come with as little packaging as possible, or at least some you can recycle.
Opt for secondhand. If you're doing a secret Santa, how about a rule that it has to be bought from a charity shop.
Why not put together a zero-waste kit? Think about including things such as a portable cup, a biodegradable lunchbox, or some wax food wraps. Look for more ideas in the Wildlife Trust shop.

Make something yourself. You can choose your own packaging, and the personal effort makes a gift priceless. How about cooking up some fudge or making your own gin?
Tote bags are a fun gift and a great way to avoid plastic bags at the checkout.

Adopt an animal as a gift.
Give the gift of Wildlife Trust membership.

Craft Paper Presents Boxes Cord Fir Tree Branch Dry Sliced Orange Fruit on Concrete Background. Chri

All dressed up with brown paper and natural decorations means gifts have a personal touch and the wrapping is recyclable and biodegradable - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wrapping it up
Of course, choosing the gift is just the beginning – think before you wrap it up.
Shiny wrapping paper is pretty, but it’s not recyclable. The same goes for glitter paper. Use brown paper for a lovely vintage look.
Sticky tape is made of plastic but you can get brown paper tape – or get creative with some ribbon or string. Better yet, go for a reusable option such as a box, bag, or cloth.

Don’t forget your Christmas cards – the same rules go for glittery and shiny cards. Watch out for the plastic wrappers too. Try to find ones sold loose or packaged differently or have a go at making your own. Or, you could send a Wildlife Trust e-card.
Save any Christmas cards and cut them up to use as tags for next year.

Avoid throwaway plastic, go homemade, and keep wildlife in mind. It will add a sweet personal touch that’ll mean the world to someone this Christmas.

Food
We waste a lot of food throughout the year but figures reach a high over Christmas. When the kitchen windows are steamed and the smell of Brussels sprouts has filled the air, we may think there is nothing we can do here for nature. But one of the simplest ways we can help our wildlife is by watching what goes down our kitchen sink.

Although water is cleaned in treatment plants before being released back into our rivers and lakes, some things are still too difficult to remove. 

Don't buy too much. Plan meals so you know how much food you'll need.
Compost vegetable waste.
Eat your leftovers. Some of the tastiest meals are made from yesterday's food.
Cut down on meat. Meat has a big carbon footprint so try out some vegetarian or vegan alternatives.

Decorations
Walk around any garden centre or supermarket at Christmas time and you’ll see a row of shiny baubles and lines of glittering tinsel. But just like our artificial Christmas tree, these plastic items will outlast us by several lifetimes. 

Avoid tinsel. Those little bits that end up sprinkled all over the house are plastic. So why not have a go at making your own decorations? How about some bunting, origami or pinecone decorations.

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Get creative for nature. You could make your very own wreath that’ll feed the birds as well as looking great.

Turn off your Christmas lights overnight and when you are out the house to save energy.
Turn down your heating a notch or two and save money as well as the planet

Avoid buying Christmas crackers that often contain plastic toys. Instead make your own using toilet roll tubes.
Make your own natural table decorations – holly leaves look fantastically festive.

An elegant living room, dimly light, decked out with Christmas decorations and a roaring fire.

Switch off the fairylights when you go to bed and decorate your home with a real tree and boughs of festive greenery - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Christmas trees 
First popularised in the UK by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who brought the tradition across with him from Germany, today around eight million Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year. If you're considering buying an artificial tree then it's worth considering its life cycle before you buy. 

Often made of plastic, many artificial trees are non-recyclable and will end their days as part of our growing landfills. Taking hundreds or even thousands of years to biodegrade, every artificial Christmas tree ever made is still present within our landscape. A traditional Christmas tree, on the other hand, can biodegrade and, even better, can then offer a home to some native wildlife. 

If you have a garden or know someone who does, you might want to get creative with your tree. You could try stripping the fronds and using these as mulch for plants. The needles are ericaceous though, meaning that when they eventually rot down, they are acidic, so only pop the fronds on plants that like those conditions.

Plants such as blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and heathers would be happy for the needles. The leftover trunk could also be a useful support for climbing plants come spring, so the whole tree is used.

Consider renting a tree. These trees are grown in special pots that can be dug up and replanted year after year. Check it is grown sustainably first.
Buy a pre-loved fake one instead of a new one. 

If you are looking for gifts that will not only be appreciated by your loved ones but also help local wildlife and the environment too – why not visit the Cheshire Wildlife Trust online shop?

From hedgehog adoption packs and calendars to T-shirts and gift memberships we've got lots of thoughtful presents that will be a gift for a loved one and for wildlife too, as all proceeds from our online shop go towards our work.

Visit cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/shop where you'll find lots of inspiration for large gifts and stocking fillers.