Keeping it green

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it can be easy to forget the effects that Christmas has on the environment.

From astronomical carbon footprints due to excessive eating and increased travelling, to mounds of plastic packaging and sky-high electricity usage, our festive season may not be so joyful for mother Earth.

However, we can make some simple tweaks to our yuletide celebrations to lessen these environmental effects. Here are some simple ideas to consider this year.

Party products
If you’re planning a party, try to choose sustainable or eco-friendly products. If you’re expecting a large number and need extra cutlery and plates, use your own plates and borrow more from friends and family. If this is unfeasible, choose biodegradable paper plates and paper or silicone straws, which be reused or gifted to guests.

Lights
Ease the stress on your pocketbook and the environment by using some solar lighting in your outdoor Christmas decorating. Local stores stock a plethora of choices, and the Cayman sun makes a reliable energy source. If using plug in varieties, LED bulbs use less energy than their incandescent counterparts.

Presents
If you’re looking to reduce how much plastic you purchase, consider giving wooden toys instead of plastic if children are on your Christmas list. For all ages shop locally to reduce your gifts’ carbon footprint. You’d be amazed at the local options available – check out our local gift guide for a few ideas. Donating to an environmental not-for-profit in place of gifts this year is also a great way of offsetting the season’s environmental impact.

Wrapping paper
A lot of wrapping paper is not recyclable, so choose brown paper (office supply stores will have rolls) or even recycle old Cayman Compass newspapers to wrap your gifts this year. Reuse old gift bags (we know you have a stash in the cupboard) and consider e-cards instead of sending physical ones.

Trees
Most people will already have purchased their Christmas tree, but for next year consider an everlasting tree. Vigoro sells potted Norfolk pines which can be kept year-round, or make sure your real tree comes from a replenished Christmas tree farm, as is general practice nowadays.

If you can’t bear to be parted from your annual 6-foot fir make sure you take advantage of the Department of Environmental Health’s tree recycling programme which takes place after the holidays, with drop off spots island-wide. They will be mulched, with the resulting mulch made available to the public in mid-January. This programme reduces the amount of waste entering the landfill.

If you have an artificial tree, like 80% of American households according to a recent survey by the American Christmas Tree Association, keep using it as long as you can. Use LED lights to save energy.

Food
The National Turkey Federation estimates that approximately 22 million turkeys are eaten at Christmas, alongside generous portions of side dishes and beverages.
The production of this amount of food has a great environmental impact in terms of food miles and carbon footprint. You can decrease your impact by incorporating more vegetarian or vegan dishes into your menu this year as they are more efficient to produce or choose local meat options and ensure you are not making excessive amounts which will inevitably be wasted.

Cooler weather
With Cayman’s Christmas season, come glorious Christmas breezes. Take full advantage of them by opening your doors and windows and turning off the AC, and maybe even walking or cycling more. Both will take some stress of both your bank account, and the environment.