How to have a ‘Green Christmas’

Author’s note: This article first appeared on GMA News.

It’s again that time of the year when Christmas lights brighten houses and streets, families whip up feasts for noche buena, and friends crank up the volume for all-night videoke showdowns.

Christmas is the merriest and most festive holiday not only in the Philippines but in many parts of the world as well. However, it is probably also the most wasteful time of the year, with all the leftover food and excess wastes produced during the festivities.

In fact, according to a survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, an average Filipino wastes 22 grams of consumable food daily. This figure rises significantly during the holidays.

Also, according to government data, Metro Manila generates up to 6,600 tons of waste everyday. That is about 25 per cent of the waste produced in the country of some 35,000 tons per day.

But the environment doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the Christmas season. In the first part of “Born To Be Wild’s” Christmas special, Doc Ferdz Recio and Doc Nielsen Donato shared several tips on how to have a merry Christmas without the unnecessary excesses and overconsumption. Fortunately, there are things we can do to minimize the untoward environmental impact of our holiday celebrations.

Buy less

While we all want to give our loved ones thoughtful Christmas gifts, these gifts don’t always need to be store-bought. Adding a personal touch to your presents will definitely make them more special and memorable.

Instead of buying items, you can treat your loved ones to services like massages or a spa day. Bring the entire family to a museum, or go ice skating or horseback riding with your friends.

However, if you’re planning on shopping for new gifts, make sure to shop smart by “thinking green.”

It’s more advisable, for example, to buy locally-made items because these have less carbon footprints. Unlike locally-made stuff, imported items have higher carbon footprints as these have been transported either by sea or by air.

Also avoid giving gifts that are battery-operated. Jettisoned batteries, or batteries that have been discarded, are hazardous to the environment. Even rechargeable ones will go to waste over the long haul.

Improvise and personalize decorations

Making your own Christmas ornaments can be more rewarding because of the personal touch you put into crafting them. Plus, you do not only save yourself money by doing so, but you also help the environment by repurposing existing materials found at home, such as old magazines, newspapers and ribbons.

And if you have a garden, you can use natural items like twigs, colorful flowers and leaves to create easy-to-make ornaments, bouquets and centerpieces.

Putting up Christmas lights is part of the fun of the holidays, but it can take quite a toll on your electricity expenses – especially with the impending electricity rate hike. When putting up Christmas lights, make sure you use light-emitting diode or LED lights, which consume up to 95 percent less energy than the usual big bulbs.

Do not forget to turn your lights off before bedtime. This not only saves electricity but also keeps your lights from overheating, which can start fires.

Reduce food wastes

Planning your menu in advance and keeping it simple and budget-friendly are good ways to lessen food waste during the holidays. Pick dishes that do not spoil easily and can still be consumed even after noche buena.

If you have excess food, you can share it with your neighbors and other people in your community instead of throwing it away.

If you and your loved ones are dining out, pick a restaurant that offers native food that is locally grown. Not only do you reduce your carbon footprint, you also end up helping our local food growers, farmers and fishermen.

Instead of throwing food away, you can recycle leftovers. With a little creativity and imagination, you can save yourself some money while also helping the environment.

Rediscover the ‘real’ Christmas spirit

Because of all the shopping and the rush to prepare for the season, we sometimes forget the real meaning of Christmas – that it really is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and cultivating family togetherness.

Always remember that curtailing your holiday spending won’t deprive you and your family the real Christmas experience. It won’t hurt to take a brief pause from all the festivities and reflect on the true spirit of Christmas with your family and friends. — Jan Suing/CM, GMA News



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