With a global focus on climate change more buyers than ever are taking environmental concerns into consideration when choosing a home. A property’s energy rating has always been important and now many buyers are searching for homes that have been built or modified in order to conserve energy or water and which use sustainable, recycled materials where possible.
Written by Wesley Muchimwe | 22nd November 2018
Michael Graham’s Top Tips for an Eco-friendly Christmas
The philosophy of reducing waste and saving money can be easily applied to our Christmas celebrations too. With a little forward planning, a few simple swaps and some essential recycling tips you can enjoy all the trimmings of the festive season and help the planet at the same time:
- Crackers? John Lewis and Waitrose have announced that from 2020 their Christmas crackers will no longer include plastic toys or be decorated with the plastic glitter that makes them unrecyclable. If you want to make a green choice when it comes to Christmas crackers this year, you can buy kits to make your own from scratch or buy 'fill your own crackers' that you can put your own gifts into. Available from a variety of stores including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Dunelm.
- Think twice about wrapping paper: Before you start stockpiling wrapping paper, bear in mind that foil or glitter designs can’t be recycled. Glitter-free and foil-free gift wrap is more expensive so if you want to save money as well as the planet wrap gifts in tissue paper or brown paper tied up with string or raffia and decorated with a sprig of holly. On Christmas day, do the recycling scrunch test: if scrunched up paper stays scrunched it can be recycled. If it opens up again, throw it in the bin.
- Source a sustainable tree: If you already have a plastic tree then the most planet-friendly thing to do is to make it last as long as possible. Ultimately though fake trees end up as landfill so the long-term environmental choice is a real tree, bought from a sustainable source. Check out our 1 December blog on Christmas Tree farms in the region. Once Christmas is over, dispose of your real tree by taking it to a local tip where it will be processed and eventually turned into something new, or by looking out for local council recycling schemes.
- Make the switch to LED lights: Fairy lights, illuminated reindeer and Christmas trees resplendent with garlands of lights. We can’t get enough of them but they do guzzle energy. LED lights use on average 75% less energy and can last up to 25 times longer. Check out Not On The High Street, John Lewis and Lights4Fun this Christmas.
- Choose decorations that will last a lifetime: Decorations made from recycled wood, fabric and glass make great alternatives to plastic or PVC options that are non-recyclable. When choosing decorations, opt for classic designs that will be loved for years, as opposed to trend pieces that you'll be tired of by next Christmas. Last year’s pompoms or pineapples anyone?
- Make your own Christmas wreath: Why buy a plastic wreath when picking sprigs of winter greenery from your garden or hedgerow doesn't cost a penny, looks infinitely more beautiful and makes for a fun and festive afternoon? If you’re heading to a Christmas tree farm, you can usually pick up a reasonably priced wreath there too.
- Shop mindfully: We often start out with the best intentions, but it's all too easy to get carried away and go overboard when it comes to Christmas gifts. Toy stores are packed with the latest plastic must-have, but are they really worth the money and the impact on the environment? Wooden toys are more aesthetically pleasing and they’ll never go out of fashion.
- Source meat consciously: In the current economic climate it’s more important than ever to buy British and support our local farmers. We’re fortunate to have a huge number of fabulous farm shops in the Michael Graham region including Boycott Farm in Buckingham, Holme Farm in Hitchin, Hertfordshire and Smiths Farm Shop in Chapel Brampton in Northampton. Support them if you can and when shopping in a supermarket choose loose vegetables and avoid plastic packaging where possible.
- Opt for soy candles: Candles are especially lovely at Christmas and soy and beeswax candles scented with essential oils are more popular than ever this year. Soy burns cleaner and produces around 90% less soot than paraffin based candles so is another positive choice for the environment. If you want a vegan option there are plenty out there including all Yankee candles (except those with beeswax tapers so do check) and Pacifica soy candles from Holland and Barrett. If you’re feeling creative, Hobbycraft sells kits to make your own.
Do you have any more ideas for an eco-friendly Christmas? Please do share them on our social channels and from 1 December you can find Christmas tips, tricks and competitions hidden behind every door on our Countdown to Christmas Michael Graham advent calendar. Check in with us every day for your most organised Christmas yet.