Delicious tips for an ethical Christmas!
Now December is in full swing, it’s officially the season for enjoying plenty of eating, drinking and merriment with loved ones (hooray!). Every day we are proud to work with a fantastic group of suppliers who provide high-quality and sustainable produce to our family of restaurants. Christmas is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year for sharing in the huge delight that comes with great local and sustainable food, but it can also be one of the trickiest to take a responsible approach to festivities. That’s why I’m very excited to share with you the ultimate guide on how to have an ethical and green Christmas from our friends at Farmdrop. From DIY decorations to loving your leftovers, minimising waste at home and green gifts, they’ve got it covered! Together, let’s all enjoy a deliciously greener Christmas.
Gift’s galore: what is a good green gift?
The festive season is the perfect time for giving and receiving, sharing and loving (Joey knows it), but it’s also an ideal time to exercise your spending power wisely and give a meaningful gift that your friends/mother/lover will rave about in years to come. Broaden your ideas of what a gift could look like and you’ll set the wheels in motion for winning the in-family award for ‘most thoughtful gift 2016’.
Gift an experience
Try giving an experience or course where the lucky recipient will try or learn something new (this also handily requires little or no packaging). Help someone get to grips with all things sustainable with a course at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys, Wales, where they cover all aspects of green living: from energy efficiency to organic growing. Help save ancient woods under threat and create new native woodland in the UK buy gifting a membership to the Woodland Trust. If you know a foodie, consider a fermentation, pickling and jam workshop with one of London’s award-winning food producers Newton & Pott in Hackney or a casual afternoon whipping up British free-range charcuterie in the Norfolk countryside with Marsh Pig for the wannabe self-sufficient carnivore. There’s always foraging and mushroom hunting to be done too, just so it’s clear your friends and family know you’re a funghi to be with…
Give less, give better
Don’t bundle up on gifts. Tempting as it may be to add on a few little extras here and there, it’s makes for a much better experience for the giftee to bask in the glory of one lovely, wonderful thing that needs no accompaniments. By giving less you’re also contributing less to the vicious cycle of cheap and disposable items that won’t see the light of day next December. Wave goodbye to presents without provenance and give a warm welcome to lovingly-made homegrown items that’ll last and are by ethical traders where the folks behind them are treated fairly. Try Nudie jeans that will literally last a lifetime with their free repair service and transparent production to boot. Or how about a mighty fine umbrella? Ince Umbrellas are the UK’s oldest makers and they pride themselves in a sustainable supply chain. Rest easy in the knowledge that the one thing someone living in Britain will always need is a proper good brolly.
Pre-used goodies might not scream Christmas, but you’ll be amazed at what you can find on sites such as Preloved or Oxfam where you truly can contribute to the reduce, reuse, recycle cause. The best thing outside of buying anything new at all is to buy something secondhand. Many items listed are brand new and have never been used at all, and some perhaps just once for a special occasion. If you have a certain gift in mind, spend a little time searching and you could save a lot of money and help the planet out too.
Image by WinterCozy
Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
To buy a real tree or not to buy a real tree? Did you know 8 million Christmas trees are felled each year in the UK? The majority of which land in the tip a few weeks later. Some will say it’s not a proper Christmas unless you have the scent of pine wafting around the living room and yet many of the trees available in garden centres will have been intensively farmed on a big scale and some may have arrived at the petrol station forecourt via a long-haul journey from overseas.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are ways to bring the German-born tradition of a decorated tree indoors without leaving a huge environmental footprint. 95% of Christmas trees grown in the UK are on farms that provide habitat for wildlife. So whilst a freshly cut spruce is greener than an imported fake tree, here’s what you could do to be as green as possible when it comes to your Christmas tree.
Know where your tree is grown
To make sure your tree is grown in the UK, check out the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved trees which are grown as part of a well-managed forest, minimising the use of pesticides and protecting forest plants and animals. The Forestry Commission have a list of Christmas tree sales centres where you can buy a sustainably grown, local tree. The Christmas Forest is small and independent family business who provide sustainable trees from 10 sites across London (or you can order online). Every tree cut after it’s nine-year growing cycle is replaced and for each tree sold, another is donated so it can be grown by a family in Africa through Tree Aid.
Go locally grown or organic
If you can’t get an FSC tree, you could try sourcing one that is organically or locally grown by a nearby farmer, which can provide benefits in terms of pesticide use and carbon footprint reduction as well as the added benefit of organic Christmas tree farms providing a rich habitat for wildlife. To find a retailer selling organic trees, head to The Soil Association’s website.
Rent, reuse or recycle a tree
Did you know you could rent a tree? You’ll receive your tree in a pot and it’ll be returned to the ground after Christmas so it can happily live on. Try Forever Green Christmas Trees, who serve Essex. Reusing a potted tree or using an existing (i.e. secondhand) fake tree year after year (and we mean year after year, rather than ever buying a new one and contributing to the mass-production horror that is fake Christmas trees) win you brownie points in the reducing-waste department. If you do go for a real cut tree, make sure it does some good to the environment by giving it to the council and recycling it – it’ll be shredded and then go on to be compost or wood chip mulch. Check with your council on their Christmas tree recycling scheme or try www.letsrecycle.com.
Hello Christmas dinner (and some)
Know where your food comes from
There’s almost nothing sorrier than scrambling around a crowded supermarket, fending off the rest of London for the last sad bag of sprouts. Do whatever you can to avoid the stress of the last minute supermarket dash. Not only will you save yourself bags of time and energy, you also avoid contributing to the machine of mass-produced food without provenance that’s been sitting around in distribution centres, ready for the big Christmas rush. Not what you want for your festive feast, aka best-meal-of-the-year, right?
Source local food where you know how it’s been produced and where it’s come from. How can you know how your Turkey was raised? Go for a free-range or organic turkey from a source you trust. (Catch Farmdrop’s farmers Nick & Jacob at Fosse Meadows on the farm with their turkeys who really live life on the wild side.)
Make a meal of your leftovers
The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy at Christmas. Save your pennies and the planet by planning in leftover dishes that you and the gang will really look forward to. Try a few simple tricks and tips, such as throwing leftover herbs into a frittata or going hell for leather on a cracking bubble and squeak. Make stock by roasting turkey bones and simmering them with water and leftover herbs – be the ultimate Christmas multitasker and leave it to simmer whilst your favourite festive film is on. Leave to cool and freeze in an ice cube tray and it’ll see you into the new year. And there’s always room for turkey green curry and a panettone bread and butter pudding…Check out Saiphin’s festive recipes.
Say goodbye to BOGOFFS
Avoid waste by resisting erroneous buy-one-get-one-free deals where you end up lumbered with a mountain of not-so-special sweet treats you and your family simply won’t need after all that tasty turkey and nut roast. Notoriously designed by supermarkets to get you to buy more, BOGOFFS aren’t there to help you, but help line their pockets.
Decorations and all the trimmings
During the festive season alone, in Britain we create 3 million tonnes of waste (gulp). We use over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, which creates over 83 square km of rubbish – that’s enough to cover Guernsey (blimey, let’s just call the whole thing off…). Together, we can ease contributions to the rubbish pile by using recycled paper and recycling it again after use. As alternative to buying anything new, try using old wallpaper, posters or even newspapers to artfully wrap gifts. Get your crafting hat on and embrace homemade decorations such as timeless paper chains and easy-as-pie snowflakes. Try our 5 easy and sustainable DIY craft ideas that’ll reuse what you have at home and impress your guests with your crafty-prowess. Soon enough you’ll find yourself saying: ‘You won’t be able to find these beautifully handcrafted… foraged in a shop’.
This blog was brought to you by Farmdrop – a food-tech startup who think the way mass-produced food is made and distributed is all wrong. Farmdrop deliver delicious food, direct from local producers to homes across London. Find out more about their fantastic food and incredible local producers at www.farmdrop.com Enjoy £25 off your first shop of £50 or more with the code ROSASTHAICAFE.