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Dreaming of a green Christmas? Time to reign in on the waste.

JUST as our grandparents made their Christmas cakes and puddings in the blustery days of autumn, early planning is a good way to make sure waste and excess is kept to a minimum over the holiday.

Planning is nowhere more important than when it comes to Christmas food. The season of excess all too often means that far too much food is bought in, and, despite our best intentions, much of it ends up being thrown away.

So when you plan for that Boxing Day visit from the aunts and uncles, try to be realistic about how much they're really going to want to eat.

No-one wants to leave their guests feeling hungry, especially at Christmas, but buying in loads of nuts, dates and Christmas biscuits that no-one wants to eat is a waste of money and resources.

And just because your food waste can now go in the compost bin doesn't meant it's sensible to buy more than you need in the first place.

Planning your meals realistically can help you avoid leftovers, but if you do end up with loads of uneaten turkey and pudding, don't despair - there are plenty of tasty meals you can rustle up with scraps.

You will be able to find some good Christmas leftover recipes on www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.

We have already looked at some great green Christmas gift ideas on pages 12-13. But what about wrapping them? We throw away an incredible 80 sq km of wrapping paper across the UK every Christmas. The good news is that most of it can be recycled, although remember to remove any sticky tape before putting it in the recycling bin.

Metal-based wrapping paper cannot usually be recycled so it's best to avoid it.

Why not buy recycled wrapping paper to start with? Many online retailers and charity shops sell it now.

Or you can go one step further and wrap your gifts in plain brown paper, perhaps decorated yourself or with children's drawings. Use ribbons or string instead of sticky tape to make reuse or recycling easier.

People often assume artificial Christmas trees are greener than real ones because they haven't been taken from a forest. But most artificial trees are made from petrochemicals, use a lot of energy in manufacture and are neither recyclable nor biodegradable.

Real trees soak up CO2 during the 10 years they are in the ground, are replaced when they are felled and the plantations provide valuable wildlife habitats. If you are concerned about pesticide use, look out for organically grown trees.

Remember that your local authority will either collect your tree after Christmas or provide facilities for it to be recycled.

Another option is to buy a potted tree that can be kept outside through the rest of the year and brought in again over successive Christmases. This allows your Christmas tree to add something to your garden throughout the year.

Christmas trees, of course, need lights and decorations. Again, online retailers and charity shops are good places to look for decorations made from recycled or natural materials. You can even find plantable decorations made of wildflower seeds wrapped up in biodegradable paper.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a string of 100 Christmas tree lights used for 10 hours a day generates enough CO2 to fill five party balloons every day.

LED lights can reduce your energy consumption by 90%, while a fibre-optic decoration can light a whole tree from a single bulb.

Turn one or more room lights off when you switch on Christmas tree lights and remember to turn Christmas lights off when you go out and when you go to bed.

As the Christmas festivities get into full swing, we've come up with 10 top tips to help people have a green Christmas. 1. If you're having visitors to stay this Christmas, let them know where your recycling bins are and what goes in them.

2. Christmas may affect the day of your council's recycling collection scheme. Check on their websites or call them to find out the collection schedule. 3. Don't waste money or food buying a turkey that is too big. As a guide, a 5lb bird is usually enough for two to four people. See our guide: www.

wasteawarenesswales.org.uk/2583.html 4. Use your food caddy for your vegetable peelings, turkey remains and yuletide plate scrapings.

5. Each Christmas in the UK 3,350 tonnes of glass is thrown away. Remember that bottles and jars can be collected for recycling by your council. 6. The amount of wrapping paper thrown away each year could stretch to the moon if each sheet was laid end to end. Some shiny wrapping paper cannot be recycled so why not keep it for next year's presents or buy paper that is recyclable? 7. With hundreds of gifts being given and received this Christmas, why not have a clear-out and sell old furniture, clothing and gadgets online, or donate them to a charity shop? 8. Why not buy a real Christmas tree in a pot this year instead of buying one with its roots cut off? The average tree absorbs one tonne of carbon, that's around 10% of your annual carbon footprint.

9. Don't forget to recycle your Christmas cards or give them a new lease of life by cutting them up to make gift tags.

10. Save money, time and paper this year by sending free Christmas e-cards.

CAPTION(S):

Is the size of your Christmas day turkey a bit excessive?

lights are one of the great energy drains during the holidays

Most paper-based wrapping paper is recyclable

About 11% of our festive bin contents will be card and paper
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 17, 2015
Words:947
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