11 December 2023

GlasGowGreener December update

A graphic of leaves inside a lightbulb with text 'Glasgow Greener'

Welcome to our December update on GlasGowGreener – Glasgow Life’s sustainability campaign which aims to help us all play our part in supporting the charity’s climate actions.

As the countdown to Christmas continues, it’s hard to resist the temptation to get caught up in a frenzy of festive shopping. Before you hit the high street though, or break the bank ordering online, take a pause to consider if your yuletide could be a bit more sustainable this year. Even small changes to your celebrations can make a real difference to the planet – and your purse.

Dreaming of a green Christmas

‘Tis the season, to share gifts, but Christmastime consumerism is a fairly modern phenomenon. Going back to more old-fashioned festivities – that focus less on trying to impress your loved ones with your purchasing power and concentrate instead on creating feel-good, shared experiences – can reap a range of benefits.

Throughout our GlasGowGreener campaign, we’ve emphasised that every time we buy something new, there’s a cost to the environment. That ranges from the energy used to manufacture products and transport goods, to pollution generated from waste.

It’s a sobering thought that in Scotland, our purchases, which we so often treat as disposables and discard after hardly any use, are responsible for around 80% of our country’s carbon emissions. Trying to buy less, and being more mindful about the presents we choose to give loved ones is therefore recommended.

Instead of automatically buying new, try to be creative about other choices. Don’t discount the idea of pre-loved items – for example vintage china, books or linens. And if you’re into any arts or crafts, making a gift, for example by knitting, sewing, baking, drawing or painting, will be really appreciated for its personal touch.

Keep sustainability in mind too when wrapping gifts. Avoid foiled or glittered papers that aren’t recyclable and remember that parcels covered in plain brown paper or even fabric, tied up with twine or ribbons, can look very appealing. Don’t forget to recycle cards you receive too; lots of supermarkets and shops have collection points for these after Christmas.

Rather than buying a physical present, gifting an experience is also a great, environmentally-friendly option. Buying vouchers online for an afternoon tea, dinner, or a visit somewhere creates treasured memories – and if you book an experience offered by a business in your community or area, you’ll be supporting it and the local economy too.

Food for thought

Many of us are guilty of over-indulging on festive feasts, and organising special meals with family and friends unfortunately means we often tend to over-stock on provisions too. By planning meals and being realistic about how much food you really need, you can cut the chance of wasting food. It’s worth checking out The Love Food, Hate Waste (Scotland) website to find ideas to help you reduce food waste, and recipe suggestions for leftovers.

Meeting up with loved ones over the festive season frequently means making extra journeys. Transport is Scotland’s biggest contributor to climate change, and buying fuel has a carbon cost, so when planning your travel, think about how you can reduce its impact by choosing sustainable types of travel, like public transport or car-sharing.

Our festive challenge!

As we’ve highlighted, ‘tis the season to do things differently, so our challenge for everyone this month is to try to adopt the recommendations we’ve outlined in this GlasGowGreener update. And your team challenge is to recycle or upcycle any unwanted or obsolete items you may have in your office or venue to make ‘green’ decorations. Get crafty, then send pictures of your creations to sustainability@glasgowlife.org.uk by 22 December. Include a description telling us what you used to make your decorations (such as out-of-date printed material, old folders, paper cups etc), and don’t forget to give us your team’s name and location too so we can pick a winner!

As always, thank you for your continued support of our GlasGowGreener campaign and involvement with it throughout 2023.  Wishing you all a very Happy – and of course, green – Christmas!