Traditions die as Christmas turns green

Traditions die as Christmas turns green

Forget decking the halls with boughs of holly.

Native Wollemi pine trees, bags of cattle manure and carbon-offset gift vouchers are the way to achieve a sustainable Christmas this year, conservationists say.

"At this time of year we travel more, over-illuminate our homes and cities, eat too much, waste too much and buy far too much stuff," Queensland Conservation Council manager Jeff Poole said.

"We're hoping people this year might think a little more about celebrating and having fun in a more sustainable fashion."

The emerging green conscience has prompted the council this year to release a list of top tips to prevent the festive season from becoming a "feast of maximum emissions".

Chief among the tips is ditching the traditional cut pine and artificial trees in favour of a living, potted native species, such as a Wollemi or Mount Spurgeon pine.

"The once-rare Wollemi pine is the perfect shape and the Mount Spurgeon looks great with or without baubles," Mr Poole said.

Many local councils encourage neighbours to "out-twinkle each other" with energy-sucking Christmas lights displays, but Mr Poole said Green Power deals from electricity retailers and LED lights helped minimise their contribution to global warming.

"If you already have kilometres of lights for your electro-Santa extravaganza, it's better to keep them until they need replacing instead of banishing them to landfill too early," he said.

Buying antique or pre-loved gifts from second-hand stores or the online auction site eBay avoids emissions from the manufacture of new ones.

Second-hand and recycled gifts are encouraged this year, and for that person who has everything - including a large carbon footprint - Origin Energy (www.originenergy.com.au) and Climate Friendly (www.climate friendly.com) offer gift certificates that offset carbon emissions.

The growing practice of "freecycling", which is based on the theory that one person's trash is another's treasure, is seen as another sustainable way to fill Santa's stocking - or offload that horrid gift from last year - by allowing people to list free items on the website freecycle.org.au.

Or, for between $15 and $40, Christmas shoppers can buy a duck, mosquito nets, cattle manure and literacy classes through aid group Oxfam Australia's Unwrapped program to help those less fortunate.

Toowong businesswoman Tracey Bailey, who operates two Biome Eco Stores in the city and at inner city Paddington, aims for a green Christmas.

Ms Bailey and her family - husband Robin and children Gabrielle, 5, and Georgia, 7 - score well in the season's sustainability stakes.

They have the Wollemi pine, Green Power, LED lights for the tree, solar-powered lights outside, home-made decorations and Oxfam gifts. They use fabric or reusable paper as wrapping.

The family make gift tags from cards they received last year and they buy beeswax candles rather than those of paraffin, which is a petroleum product.

The Baileys contribute to Greenfleet Australia to offset emissions from their car use and minimise waste through composting.

They draw the line at second-hand gifts, but buy environmentally friendly goods from local shops.

"We always try to give something of good quality and meaningful rather than try to fill a stocking with rubbish that will just be thrown away," Ms Bailey said. "It's a furphy that being green is more expensive; it's cheaper because a greener life is simpler with much less waste."

Mr Poole said buying food locally and being vegetarian cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.

"If you must eat meat, find an organic supplier and stay away from the worst greenhouse offenders, grain-fed meats," he said.

 

 

 

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