OK, so we all lead busy lives right? and we all live in the 21st century- but with a bit of smart thinking we can make a few little changes and save a whole heap of energy from being wasted! Saving the amount of energy you consume is the single biggest (and easiest!) contribution you can make to the environment.

My name is Fred.

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Saturday, 8 December 2007

Top Tips for a Greener Christmas

Are you dreaming of a `green' Christmas? Well, even if you're not, you can enjoy the festive season by taking inspiration from our ideas for presents, parties and decorations which won't cost the earth.

  1. Try flea markets, antique jewellery and vintage clothing shops for gifts - you'll be giving a unique present, as well as recycling.

  2. Indulge with a local, organic hamper made up from the local farmers market or give gifts of locally-brewed beer or organic wine.

  3. If you're talented in the kitchen, you could make chutneys, cakes, or chocolate truffles as presents. Or make your own flavoured organic olive oil, adding dried chillies, garlic or herbs to a pretty bottle and filling it up with oil.

  4. Treat people to a special experience instead of an item - such as theatre tokens, annual membership of a gallery or a weekend at a spa.

  5. For budding eco-enthusiasts, `Save Cash and Save the Planet', published by Friends of the Earth and Collins, is packed with ideas on how you can save money and help the planet. www.savecashsaveplanet.co.uk

  6. Take your own re-usable shopping bags with you when you do your Christmas shopping. Around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas.

  7. Cut down on the stress of choosing presents if you've got a big group of people to buy for, by organising a `Secret Santa' - agree a gift budget which everyone must to stick to, pick one name each out of a hat, then everyone only has to buy one present.

Food and drink

  1. If you can, opt for seasonal local food and drink. A traditional Christmas dinner uses seasonal British produce and buying your food from a local market or grocer helps the local economy and cuts down on `food miles', which contribute to climate change.

  2. Buy loose rather than pre-packed vegetables - it'll help cut down on waste packaging.

  3. If you're having a party, avoid serving food and drink on disposable plates and cups - they will just add to our growing mountain of waste. Borrow extra crockery from neighbours. Many wine shops lend boxes of wine glasses, if you're buying supplies from them.

  4. Around half of the waste produced by households at Christmas could easily be recycled, but last year almost 90% ended up in the dustbin.

  5. Instead of throwing away all those sprout peelings, why not put your vegetable leftovers in a compost bin? Around 4,000 million sprouts are bought in the week before Christmas, so there's a lot of composting just waiting to happen.

  6. It's tempting to over-buy food at Christmas, but save yourself some cash by trying to plan menus for the holiday season. The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy.

  7. More than 10 million turkeys are bought and 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil are thrown away in the UK each Christmas - if you can't re-use the foil for cooking, make sure you put it in the recycling.

Christmas trees, lights, cards and wrapping paper
  1. Last year we sent around 744 million Christmas cards. If all these were recycled instead of thrown away, it would help to save the equivalent of 248,000 trees.

  2. Choose charity cards and wrapping paper which have some recycled paper content.

  3. Try the Natural Collection's new paper range made of raffia fibres from the bark of the mulberry tree, coloured with sugar cane or banana. www.naturalcollection.com No trees are cut down to make it, as the fibres keep growing back.

  4. More than 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper will be used on Christmas presents, using the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees. Last Christmas, DEFRA estimated that 83 square km of wrapping paper ended up in UK rubbish bins.

  5. Indoor strings of Christmas lights don't use a lot of energy. If you really want to cut your energy use, you should swap your ordinary light bulbs for energy saving ones, which use a fraction of the energy and last on average 12 times longer. If every UK household installed just one energy saving bulb, they'd save over £80 million per year.

  6. If you buy a real tree, and more than 6 million of us do, check with your local council if they will recycle it. Many local authorities grind the trees into wood chips and use them to mulch gardens or parks, instead of dumping the trees in landfill sites.

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So how are you going to start saving energy?

Well, start by taking small and easy-to-manage steps. Often even the smallest of changes to our normal routines can have big pay-offs when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Every little counts, and if all of us were to make an energy saving change, the amount saved overall would lower the UK’s carbon footprint significantly.

One of the biggest problems to overcome when it comes to energy saving is the attitude that going green will be time consuming, difficult to implement or could cost us money. We’ve come up with a series of top tips for energy saving to help break these incorrect assumptions – they don’t involve lots of time or effort, and could actually help to save you money…


Keeping your home warm during the colder months is an absolute must, which means being dependent on gas central heating. However there are ways of cutting your energy bills and still staying toasty…

* Turn your thermostat down a degree.

* Use blankets and extra layers rather than turning up the heating.

* Place draught excluders under doors and loose windows.

* Fit an insulating jacket to your hot water tank.

* Place foil around the back of your radiators to reflect heat back into rooms.

* Move furniture away from radiators to allow heat to circulate.

* Close your curtains in the evenings.


Like heating, we all need our homes to be well lit in the mornings and evenings, particularly during the winter months. The key to saving money on lights is not allowing bad habits to become the norm…

* Don’t forget to turn off lights when you leave a room.

* Use your dimmer switch when you don’t need full lighting on.

* Switch off security lights when you return home or go to bed.

* Open curtains and blinds to allow natural light in.

* Avoid energy guzzling lightings fittings, for examples fluorescent lights.

* Replace used light bulbs with energy saving bulbs.

In the Kitchen

There are lots of ways to reducing the amount of energy needed to cook, store, prepare and wash up after our daily meals. Here are a few to get you green in the kitchen…

* Keep fridges and freezers shut tightly and at the correct temperature.

* Avoid heat loss in the oven by keeping the door closed until the food is ready.

* Wash vegetables and fruit in a bowl rather than under a running tap.

* Grow your own vegetables, or shop locally for them.

* Turn your toaster setting down by one.

* Unplug all appliances when not in use, or they will continue to use energy.


There’s lots of fun and relaxation to be had in the garden, especially when the sun is shining. There are also plenty of things you can do to help save energy and create a luscious green garden that everyone will enjoy…

* Turn food and garden waste into nutrient soil for flowers and plants using a home composting bin.

* Start growing your own vegetables.

* Use a manual lawnmower rather than an electrical one.

* Make a rock garden using reclaimed stone.

* Use a watering can to water plants instead of a hosepipe or sprinkler.

* Fit a water-butt onto the downpipe of your guttering to collect rainwater.


We all need to get from A to B, which invariably involves some form of transport. In order to save energy and carbon emissions, there are alternative ways to travel than in your petrol dependent car…

* Share your driving burden by joining a car sharing pool.

* Invest in a bicycle for shorter journeys.

* Switch your car off when it's idling for a long period- even in traffic jams.

* Try walking a short journey you’d usually drive at least once a week.

* If you’re travelling on a longer journey, take a train instead.

* Choose a car with low carbon emissions.

* Only fly when you really have to, is there another alternative?

In the Office

Saving energy shouldn’t stop as soon as you’re at work. There are just as many simple ways to save energy in the workplace as there are at home, and you should try and implement your energy saving habits in both environments…

* Shut down your computer at the end of the day, don’t just leave it on standby.

* Try to minimise the amount of paper you use to print.

* Set your printer up to print on both sides of a sheet of paper.

* As at home, only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.

* Turn off photocopiers and other office equipment before you leave.