As the festive season approaches, we tend towards indulgence. Whether this is only mild indulgence because we are acutely aware of keeping within a budget or going full out with no expense spared, the time of celebration is upon us. We can often dismiss feelings of guilt by declaring ‘It’s Christmas!’ or ‘It’s only once a year!’
Both at home and in the workplace we adorn our environments with lavish decorations and purchase far more food than is necessary. There is a cost to this which is not always a financial cost but it is an environmental cost which can quite literally cost the earth.
A huge amount of waste is generated at Christmas. We all like to give and receive gifts and many workplaces partake in the fun tradition of the ‘secret santa’. In general, gifts that are usually well received are food based, bath and body based or books. Consider hand made or second hand gifts too as chosen with a little care, these can produce minimum environmental impact.
However, bear in mind that it is estimated that over one hundred million sacks of rubbish are sent to landfill sites over the Christmas season with many of these containing ten thousand tonnes of plastic.
Wrapping paper is not always suitable for recycling and neither is anything metallic, glittery or with sellotape attached. When wrapping gifts, it is becoming increasingly fashionable to use eco-friendly alternatives such as newspapers with a natural twine to tie it.
When it comes to Christmas trees, no artificial trees can be recycled so it is always best to either reuse one each year or to have a real tree that can be replanted to provide a natural habitat for wildlife.
Christmas cards between colleagues can be replaced with e greetings or recyclable cards - again with no glitter.
Most people love shiny tinsel. We festoon our offices with it and even wear it in our hair. Yet like many other decorations, most are made of plastic so keep reusing or opt for plastic free or paper based tinsel which are equally as colourful and jolly.
Most people generate phenomenal food waste at this time of year with almost three quarters of people admitting they purchase more food than is necessary and this is no exception in the workplace where there are usually a number of colleagues with differing dietary preferences. . Desks are full of tempting Christmas nibbles and tins of brightly coloured sweets are in every office but to put it into perspective, almost eight million mince pies are thrown away every Christmas along with two million kilograms of cheese. There is obviously a lot more food waste - these two examples being merely a tip of the iceberg. Only buy what you need and check the packaging, disposing of everything with care once the festivities are over.
With a little forward thinking and planning ahead, the environmental impact of Christmas can be significantly reduced without affecting the festivities in any way by rethinking, recycling, reducing and reusing.
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