The Green Drinks discussion on 6th December concerned how to have a Green Christmas. Debbi of the IWT's Dublin Branch informed us of some of the scary facts about the amount of waste produced in Ireland every Christmas. For example, if all the glass wine and beer bottles used in Ireland at Christmas were laid end to end they would reach from Ireland to Sri Lanka! The amount of wrapping paper used would cover half of Leinster. So how do we enjoy Christmas without being so hard on the environment? Debbie outlined some of the tips we can all do to cut down on waste.
For example, using Christmas e-cards instead of the traditional cards and reusing wrapping paper cuts down on waste paper, or at least make sure your cards and paper are made from recycled material. Making your own decorations also saves a lot - using pine cones, ivy, coloured paper, old cereal boxes and tin foil in an imaginative way can be a source of great satisfaction. Real Christmas trees are also better than artificial ones, as they are greener to produce! Using LED lights instead of the traditional fairy lights can also make a big difference to your energy bills - they are 90% more efficient.
Christmas gifts can be greener too - why not give a service instead of a more material gift? Offer to give music lessons, walk the dog, childminding, whatever. If you want something more traditional then giving tickets to concerts, shows etc can be great too. Many charities like Oxfam and Bothar also provide wildlife gifts (why not give IWT membership as a gift this Christmas?) At the very least try to avoid gifts that need expensive batteries to work. There are many, many ways to enjoy Christmas in a more environmentally friendly way, if we put our minds to it!
After Debbi's talk Daragh from REPAK explained the work that the organisaion does. REPAK is a packaging and recycling scheme funded by producers and retailers, which works by REPAK arranging to have the business's waste material recycled in return for a fee. REPAK fund 1.2 million green bins around the country, 2,000 bottle banks and 100 recycling centres. Daragh outlined some tips for how we can improve our recycling - don't scrunch up your paper, but do dismantle your cardboard boxes to make more room in your bin; don't forget that take-away trays are as much aluminium as drink cans, and as easy to recycle. Do remember that glass from jars can be recycled as well as wine and beer bottles and that plastic bottles from the bathroom, like cleaning products and shampoo can also be put in the green bin. And very importantly plan your food shopping, and never go to the supermarket when you are hungry if you want to avoid that impulse buy. The average Irish family wastes about a third of the food that they buy because it goes off before they can eat it - bad for both the environment and the pocket!
Finally, IWT Dublin Branch and Leafliving wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year!