Black Friday always sparks the start of frantic Christmas shopping for my family. It is like a competition trying to get our Christmas gifts without it costing us a fortune. With a young family, we have to stick to a budget or the festive season can get quiet.
We usually pop into the shops at the start of November to make a note of what the kids take a shine to and note down some prices. This year, for some reason, I have felt really uncomfortable with the number of useless plastic gifts that are on the market. I stood in a large department store last week and just felt quite frustrated by the volume of plastic items. With the state of the planet, why are we producing so many useless items that will, without doubt, end up in landfills? It was the sheer volume I think that upset me.
I may not be able to eradicate all the useless plastic items from the stores this Christmas but we are going to aim to be greener. We don’t have the finances for solar panels, which I would love but we do get 100% green energy supplied by Octopus Energy. I reduce my energy consumption as much as I can, I am conscious of food waste and try to be sensible in terms of Christmas gifts but I know my energy usage will go up and I will waste more than I should unless I am careful. The question is how to get into the festive spirit whilst trying to stay as green as possible? Is it possible to stay green whilst loosening your belt?
The Christmas dinner.
We have young children and it’s quite a traditional Christmas. Half of my family are vegetarians but the other half love a traditional roast turkey dinner. Trying to make our Christmas greener I discovered that the Christmas turkey will use around 10.8kWh of electricity. This seems quite high! So we need to make sure we don’t make that consumption go up. I know we are on green energy but I feel wasting energy for whatever reason should be avoided.
Here are some ideas on how to keep energy consumption down.
- Let the turkey reach room temperature before roasting will save on cooking time.
- You don’t need to preheat the oven as letting it heat up whilst cooking will cook the turkey more thoroughly and keep it moist.
- Use one pot large pot for the vegetables and don’t forget to use a lid. Using just one hob will save energy.
- Make sure you close the fridge door. (This needs to be constantly said in our house)
- Completely fill the dishwasher before putting it on.
A family of foodies.
Over the Christmas period, we buy a lot of food and will cook a lot! How can our food be greener?
- Buy seasonal and local vegetables.
- Roast the vegetables that may be past their sell-by date to make pasta sauce and then freeze sauce or pop it in the fridge for a quick pasta dinner.
- Not throw out excess food.
- Make ready meals and freeze them rather than let fresh vegetables go to waste.
- Make batches of stews and curries in the slow cooker.
- There are some great vegan options that are quick and easy if you have friends over to stay.
I am extremely passionate about food waste and at Christmas when we always buy more than we should I feel it is important to make sure we don’t end wasting food that can be kept for after the festive period. When we throw away food we waste all the resources that went into growing it. So I think it’s important to enjoy the festivities but also be aware of what could potentially waste when considering a greener Christmas.
I am so passionate about not wasting food I have been known to walk down our street knocking neighbours doors asking if they would like the fresh food I know we won’t get around to eating. Slightly quirky and very 1970s but I usually come home empty-handed and with an additional friend or two.
Around the house
Extra people in the house with lots of cooking means extra heat. A tip I got from my grandma is to turn down the thermostat at Christmas. It is surprising how much energy this saves! I recall sitting in my friends’ house last Christmas with the patio doors open as everyone was just too hot! My grandma would have had a thing or two to say about that!
Our fake plastic tree is going to remain! It may not be the best-looking tree you have ever seen but we are going to make sure we keep reusing it. If you need to get your hands on one for any reason I would suggest freecycle or gumtree. A pre-loved tree is greener than buying a new one.
LED Christmas lights play a big part in our house as they use 90% less energy and are now really quite economical to buy. We set ours on a timer so they only come on after dark and switch off whilst we are in bed. To stop the children literally lighting up the house like a Christmas tree I unplug lamps and are in the same room as our Christmas lights. It sounds a little overzealous but my children would have every light on in every room if I didn’t keep an eye on it.
This is a great example, a 50 light string of standard fairy lights will use around 105.8kWh of electricity if they are on for 5 hours a day for 3 weeks. LED fairy lights used for the same period would use on average 18.5kWh over the same 3 week period. Using this scenario, if just 10 million families swapped their old fairy lights for LEDs, the energy savings could power 618,614 homes for an entire year!
Can Christmas gifts be greener?
I can’t say there won’t be any plastic toys or games under the tree this Christmas but I am going to dramatically reduce them! I will also be investing in more rechargeable batteries which will be a massive saving for us. The kids can also say goodbye to brightly coloured parcels as we will also be using brown paper with ribbon. At least the brown paper will be recyclable and I bet the kids don’t even notice!! I am going to Santa must believe in recycling if they do notice:-0
As we speak a friend is knitting a scarf for me to gift as a present and as we have so much excess holly in our garden we are planning to gift holly wreaths to the neighbours. It really does add to the Christmas spirit when a single click on amazon isn’t the only option. (That has been my usual go-to for Christmas gifts)
Can greener also mean cheaper?
I think it can. My children are going to make grandparents presents this Christmas. They are quite happy to use a sewing machine so they are already planning lots of cushions and aprons they can make and gift. It may not be the quickest option but it is greener and just takes some planning.
We plan to really slow down this Christmas. A walk by the beach then home for a slow-cooked meal is planned for boxing day. We are going to ditch the car for as long as possible and just enjoy what’s on our doorstep. We spend enough before Christmas. We aim to bed down and enjoy what we have.
Our energy supplier, Octopus Energy, advocates using energy when there is less demand on the national grid. This not only adds to the green benefits but also to helps your pocket. The Octopus Agile tariff uses dynamic pricing which means you can make big savings simply by shifting your electricity use to when it’s cheapest. Across the UK, whenever more electricity is generated than consumed, energy prices fall – sometimes to the point where prices drop below zero, and suppliers are paid to take energy off the grid. By switching to the Octopus Energy Agile tariff and investing in some smart plugs you could be paid to clean the dishes over Christmas. Now that’s a thought! You can even get Alexa involved. It really is that advanced.
The Agile tariff is just one tariff available to Octopus customers. The main thing is to switch to green energy. If you haven’t yet made the switch to green energy it is the biggest impact you can make to your carbon footprint. All the other savings are important but switching to green energy has the biggest impact by far!
Posted by Sarah at www.octopusreferral.link