The season of overindulgence is vastly approaching. Lights are coming up, our to-do lists are rapidly growing and it's almost time to decorate the tree. With all the excitement and anticipation that come with these yearly festivities, it’s easy to see why it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Amongst the cheer and joy that the festive season brings, the cost of a very merry Christmas is proving to be the highest for our planet. An additional 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions are produced by every individual during the holiday period. The excess of gifts, food, wrapping paper, decorations, unsustainable Christmas trees, and energy consumption is causing detrimental environmental damage.
Fortunately, the festive season doesn’t have to be so damaging. Here is Esquire Singapore’s guide on how to have a sustainable, eco-friendly Christmas.
The tree: real or artificial?
No longer are we dreaming of a white Christmas, but a green one. So where better to start than with the symbol of winter festivities, the Christmas tree. But when considering sustainability, should you purchase a real or artificial tree?
Real trees are a naturally, sustainable resource. And as they are often grown on specialised farms, they're not being removed from their natural woodland; meaning, minimal effects to the environment. What’s also great about a real tree—apart from their fresh, pine scent—is that farmers will often plant a tree in their place, making the real tree seem like the most sustainable option. Yet here in Singapore, having live trees is still not totally green. The trees are often being globally imported, rather than locally grown, creating a significantly higher carbon footprint. On the other hand, an artificial tree causes twice the carbon footprint of a real tree when produced. But at the same time, more environmentally friendly when reused annually and created with fully recycled materials.
Our recommendation: a faux tree from Oncor Recycled Trees, which are created from recycled plastics. And if used every year, will result in fewer Christmas trees needing to both imported and produced.
Ornaments and lights
Whether you go for a real or artificial tree, your chosen decorations can have huge environmental impacts too. Tonnes of tinsel, baubles and lights are being discarded onto landfills each year. When reducing waste and keeping things sustainable, purchase ornaments made from wood, metal or cloth. Head to the Sustainable Christmas Fair this year, and choose decorations that are both durable and meaningful. This way, they will be both environmentally friendly and also reusable.
Of course, decorations don't stop at baubles. Lights are a huge part of the festive season; just think of the blinding extravaganza along Orchard Road right now. But this year when decorating, choose LED lights. They are not only durable and longer-lasting, but are also much more environmentally friendly over the festive period.
Another year, another gift-giving panic. But this time, it’s with the added consciousness of sustainability. But when combining the want to treat our loved ones, with reducing our carbon footprint, it can seem like an impossible task. Not to fret, we’ve done all the thinking for you, with our curation of a unique, fully sustainable gift guide for the festive season ahead—from gifts that reduce single plastic use to the gifts that give back. There is an array of unique gifts that are sustainable, undeniably thoughtful and won't cost the Earth much. Perfect for the season ahead.
The wrapping paper
Now you've picked up your sustainable gift, the next step is wrapping paper. Encasing our carefully thought-out gifts, the wrapping paper is a crucial part of the festive ritual. Yet it is one of the biggest causes of waste each year (think the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees worth of waste). This year, instead of picking up your standard glossy wrapping—which can almost never be recycled—go for something greener. Wrap gifts in brown paper or fabric, coupled with a sustainable paper label and jute string. They add a rustic, bespoke look to each gift while also being sustainable.
Festive food waste
My favourite tradition of the festive season: bringing loved ones together over food. But if you're playing host, the thought of too little food is a Christmas nightmare, which leads to over-ordering, -preparing or -cooking, and of course, excess food wastage every year. In Singapore alone, food waste has risen over 40 percent in the past ten years. So what can you do to avoid adding to the statistic over the festive period? Donate your excess food to The Food Bank Singapore, a charity that redistributes food to old folks' homes, family service centres and soup kitchens.
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