OVERSPENDING is a big concern for households as Christmas approaches.
This has been a huge year of change and, as part of that, people have been thinking about their impact on the planet.
So, if you’re looking to spend more mindfully this festive season, whether it’s for budgeting or environmental reasons — or a combination of both — here are some tips from Shaunagh Duncan, sustainability lead at UK green energy company Bulb...
It’s common to overspend when buying ingredients for Christmas dinner, resulting in large amounts of waste.
If you follow a recipe, it might state how many people it serves and you can shop accordingly, so you’re less likely to overspend and create unnecessary waste — particularly if you’re cooking for a smaller group than usual.
For any food waste you do generate, try to make use of the food compost and green waste bins. You can even use some waste to grow your own plants — try planting an avocado stone or growing tomatoes from the seeds of supermarket veg.
Go for loose fruit and veg, which are often cheaper than packaged ones. Many high street and independent supermarkets also offer ‘wonky’ fruit and veg, which are cheaper than regular items, but just as delicious and nutritious.
This can be more cost effective and helps to support local businesses, while reducing transport emissions.
You could also try eating something different. By swapping red meat for more vegetarian recipes on Christmas Day, you could reduce your carbon footprint and also save money.
Or if you can’t give up the turkey and pigs in blankets, try cutting down on red meat in the run-up to the big day instead.
And only boil the amount of water you actually need — these little hacks go a long way, and can reduce your energy bills.
This way, you can enjoy it over the festive season, then the tree gets picked up after the holidays and returned to a farm.
If you have a garden, another option is to plant your tree in between seasons and use it again each Christmas — which saves you buying a tree every year.
Reusing gift wrap from last Christmas can cut costs and waste. You can also get creative with your wrapping, using old magazines and spare fabric.
Try sending e-cards this year, too, or make your own using paper and materials lying around the house.
If you do opt for shop-bought wrapping paper or cards, try to avoid ones with glitter made from plastic.
Energy-saving LED lights are available from many online stores or garden centres. You could also switch to solar-powered outdoor lights, which can be operated on a timer. If the average household replaced all of their bulbs with LEDs, they could potentially save €50 a year on bills.
Whether it’s online or in person, try to be mindful of how, when and where you shop. There’s often a pressure to buy gifts for people unnecessarily. Although this comes with good intentions, it can lead to overspending and more waste sent to landfill. You could also try to limit the number of different online deliveries to your home, to help reduce vehicle emissions and excess packaging. It could also save you from paying multiple delivery charges, which can all add up, too.
Examples of thoughtful and long-lasting presents could include a houseplant or a memory photo album. Buying ‘gift experience’ vouchers to be used some time in the future could also help support local businesses at a time when they need it most.
You could also consider a renewable energy supplier as a way of going green.