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The top 10 ways to have a green Christmas

We're not dreaming of a white Christmas. No, we want our festive season to be green. The environmental impact of Christmas is needlessly huge, but with just a few easy changes you can make a big difference and save money too.

Here are our top 10 tips for an environmentally-friendly yuletide:

1. Buy organic food. In particular, make the effort to source an organic centrepiece - so you can be sure the highlight of your Christmas meal is the best it can be. Choosing organic is an easy way for you and your family to avoid additives and preservatives and reduce your exposure to pesticides. Organic is always free range and has the highest standards of animal welfare. When you eat and share organic food, you can virtually taste the happiness! You can find many organic food and drink options on the Soil Association Christmas Marketplace. And if you're looking for recipe inspiration, we've can help.

2. Cook once, eat twice. Recent figures suggest the UK chucks out the equivalent of two million turkeys, five million Christmas puddings and a truly shocking 74 million mince pies. Reduce your food waste by carefully planning what you buy, using leftovers and freezing table scraps.

3. Buying Christmas candles? Make sure you go for ones made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment.

4. In the UK we collectively throw away 226,800 miles of wrapping paper, which is enough to stretch nine times around the world! Swap foil wrapping paper for newspaper or plain brown paper which can be easily recycled. You may be the butt of some Scrooge-based jokes, but wear it with pride - safe in the knowledge that you're doing your bit to reduce waste.

5. Use natural items for decorations and ditch the plastic. Collect pine cones, twigs, berries, sprigs of evergreen plants and oranges to create wreaths, centrepieces and simple ornaments.

6. Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons, so turn them off when they are not needed. Better still, use timers so you don't have to remember.

7. Turn down the thermostat by one degree. What with a house full of people and the oven on full tilt, your house will be warmer than usual. Plus, you'll not only save carbon and money but it's a good excuse to don your most outrageous Christmas jumper.

8. On average, each person in the UK receives 17 Christmas cards. That's a lot of trees. Make sure you choose recycled options or even send an e-card. And come January, make sure you recycle all your cards or make gift tags with them for next year's festivities.

9. Not the most joyful activity, but defrosting your freezer before you fill it with Christmas fare could save big on electricity and money - perhaps as much as £100 a year.

10. Hosting a party? Try to avoid disposable plates and cutlery which create unnecessary landfill waste. If you don't have enough dishware than ask guests to bring some with them. If you really can't face all that washing up, choose 100% compostable dishes, napkin and utensils.

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