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10 tips for a low carbon Christmas

natural christmas treeIrish carbon consultancy Emission Zero is urging consumers to be aware of their carbon footprint this Christmas 

“Measure, reduce and offset are the three key elements to reducing our impact on the planet,” explains Ciara O’Connor, environmental services manager with Emission Zero and member of the British Council’s Challenge Europe 2010.

“Christmas is generally a time of the year when lots of waste is generated and our energy consumption overall is greatly increased. However, there are some simple tips we can follow to balance this out and reduce our ecological impact. The good news is that it will also have a positive effect on the bank balance.”

Want to have a happy Christmas that doesn’t cost the earth?

Then follow these Top Ten tips for a low carbon Christmas:

1-One of the most traditional parts of celebrating Christmas is the Christmas Tree. Make the eco-friendly choice this Christmas and go for a real Christmas Tree. Although artificial trees will last longer they are made from plastic, transported huge distances to market and are not recyclable. Real trees absorb CO2 emissions during their life time and can also be recycled. Go to your local council’s website after Christmas for details on tree recycling and collection.

2-When decorating your real Christmas Tree be sure to decorate it with LED lights. These lights consume only one sixtieth of the energy required by conventional lights and you can use them year after year. There is no filament in the bulbs of these lights to burn out saving all the hassle of figuring out which bulb to replace when the whole set goes out!

3-The amount of Christmas cards sent every year places a huge demand on natural resources not to mention the transport emissions from moving these cards through the post! This year send an e-card instead of a paper card or if you have to; send cards made from recycled material or charity cards. If you receive cards this year, don’t forget to recycle them or better yet, cut them up to make gift tags for next year!

4-When wrapping your presents this year, use recycled paper wrapping and tie them up with string. Avoid using foil or plastic wrapping, plastic ribbons and sellotape. And again, remember to recycle the wrapping paper from any presents you receive or try to reuse it!

-If you’re buying electrical equipment this Christmas be sure to check the energy label and only buy A rated appliances. Also be sure to recycle any old electrical appliances. Visit www.weeeireland.ie to find out how…

-At Christmas time new gifts and toys mean that a lot of batteries are used. Batteries contain toxic chemicals and are very hard to recycle so this Christmas chose rechargeable batteries; these will save on waste and also save you money in the long run.

-Food is a huge part of the celebrations at Christmas time so this year when food shopping try to shop locally. Source vegetables from your local farm or market and visit the local butcher for a locally sourced and organic turkey. Buying local reduces the emissions from transporting food and will boost the local economy….don’t forget your re-usable shopping bags!

-Avoid stress and traffic jams this Christmas by availing of public transport. This will save on fuel, CO2 emissions and also means you can enjoy a mulled wine after a hard day’s shopping!

-Christmas is a time of excess and we often find ourselves clearing out old clothes and toys at this time of year. Make sure to donate any unwanted clothes and toys to your local charity.

-Finally, when all the celebrations are over and it comes to doing the clear up remember to recycle! Compost food waste and bring empty bottles to the bottle bank!

To estimate your carbon footprint, use Emission Zero’s Carbon Calculator: http://www.emissionzero.ie/index.php?p=calculator

More tips on how to lead a low carbon life, both at home, abroad, on the road and at work can be found at: http://www.emissionzero.ie/index.php?p=carbonlife

Emission Zero’s projects include The Convention Centre Dublin, as well as ‘greening’ jetsetters Mark and Denise Duffield-Thomas, The Honeymoon Testers, winners of the Ultimate Job in Ireland and probably the world.

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