A green Christmas

I know I know, I am such a geeek. A green Christmas? Who says that? I’m such a loser. What I mean is, I hope it’s a green christmas covered in snow. Oh and Happy Winter Solstice everyone. We’re halfway there I recon. It’s all downhill from here right. The days will get longer, the sun will rise higher and before you can wax your ski’s you’ll be greasing down your cams and firing up the BBQ. OK, maybe I’m a little ahead of myself, I’m just excited is all. I suppose we need to get through the Holidays first. I leave tomorrow for Ontario. But enough about me, lets talk about you. And me and you.

Christmas is a time of family, goodwill and alcohol enhanced celebration. However, lets not forget that this is most likely accompanied by increases in eating and spending too. If all goes well this combination should result in a barrel of fun, but (unfortunately) it will also result in an estimated 3 million tonnes of waste in the UK alone. I can’t even begin to image what this number might be in Canada or the USA. LA. NY. T.O.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and probably shouldn’t. With a bit of fore-thought we can all limit the impact we have on the environment this Christmas – and still have a bitchin party with plenty of naughtiness.

Here are some stats I found from a UK website. Please read this.

* The Royal Mail delivers around 150 million cards and packets each day during the pre-Christmas period. It is estimated that up to 1 billion Christmas cards (17 for every man, woman and child) could end up in bins across the UK.
* 7.5 million Christmas trees were bought in 2001. Some councils reported their Christmas tree recycling activities for early 2001 to EnCams. The total number of Christmas trees reported to be recycled was nearly 1.2 million.
* It is estimated that over Christmas as much as 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey.
* We could use an extra 750 million bottles and glass containers, and 500 million drinks cans. About 20% to 30% more glass and cans are collected each year over the Christmas period.

The amount of waste we produce and our main methods of disposal are currently not sustainable. The production, treatment and disposal of waste can all harm the environment. This is not just because of the problems with landfill, incineration or other disposal options – it is also because we use new resources to replace ones we have thrown out. It is estimated that for every tonne of waste produced in our homes, five tonnes has already been produced in manufacturing and 10 tonnes at the point where the raw material was extracted. About 600 million tonnes of raw resources are used in the UK per year, 570 million tonnes of which end up as waste losses through energy, water, solid wastes and other emissions.

As a result of our lifestyles, on average every household in the UK throws away 1.2 tonnes of waste every year. This amounts to a staggering 30 million tonnes in total.

In just a fortnight we each throw away from home, amongst other things, five glass bottles or jars, six cans, seven plastic bottles and three and a half kg of paper and card.

A massive 60% of our household waste could be recycled or composted, but most of it is still deposited in landfill sites. Nearly 23% of domestic waste was recycled and composted in England in 2004/05. We need to find ways to not only recycle more, but also to reduce and reuse our waste. We need to focus our efforts and change our habits and what better time than during the Christmas period; a new approach for a New Year!

I realize this posts sounds a bit preachy, but these numbers were draw dropping to me, and I can see even in my own life and family holidays that we can do better than we have. Non of this means a loss of fun, or surprise, it just means being aware of our footprint, our impact on the globe and our future generations. I certainly don’t need to give anyone tips on how to be more mindful this year, we all know this stuff already, we just need to begin a new level of awareness. Get creative. It really can be that simple. Be aware of your actions and ask good questions, like can I do this better? Can I produce less? Is this going to have a positive or negative effect? C’mon people, we all have good intentions I know, but like Ben says, deeds and intentions are as far apart as heaven and hell. Lets act this year, as good as we can at least. I hope you all have a delicious Holiday Season. There will be no posts from me until the New Year. Best Wishes. Rock ON.