An Eco-friendly Christmas

Being kind to the planet begins at home and start with the easiest things to change. How about kicking off with a bit of easy money saving?

Each day in the UK we waste:

  • 5 million spuds
  • Chicken equivalent of 800,000 breast fillets (70,000 chickens)
  • 2 million loaves of Bread
  • 3.5 million Tomatoes

Wasted food produces harmful greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming.

Wasted food amounts to around £50 per month for an average family or £600 per year… what could you do with that money? ( from )

Here’s an easy to follow guide for eco friendly Christmas feasting!

1 Start emptying your freezer now to make space for Christmas leftovers

Get creative in the kitchen: what bits and bobs can you use up? This week for example, I found in my freezer a handful of peas, some cooked Chicken of the Woods mushrooms from a summer forage and a couple of sausages – just add an onion and a bit of lemon juice, cook up a little rice and you have a sausage risotto.

2 Minimize food waste by planning your Christmas meals

Get the family to help with their suggestions for what they want to eat. Check the quantities you’ll need - visit and use the portion calculator.

It sounds obvious, but many of us buy too much turkey: a 4.5kg bird will serve around 8 -10 adults with some to spare for leftover turkey meals. Don’t forget to make a turkey stock with the bones and have a delicious, home made soup for boxing day.

There are ots morefood waste tips and some links to recipes for leftovers here

3 Sort out your store cupboard and fridge /freezer basics

Eg oil and vinegar, rice, pasta, pulses, butter, a bottle of sherry ( well it is Christmas!) sauces, frozen peas etc: with a few well chosen essentials, you can make lots of interesting and nutritious meals from what appears to be very little. has more details.

4 Buy Local – support independent traders where possible.

This creates resilience in the local economy, and small shops usually have more information about the provenance of their goods.

There is a list of local food suppliers/producers here.

We are so lucky in this region, a little on-line research showed that turkey, pork, beef, chicken, potatoes, carrots, sprouts, apples, pears, parsnips, cabbages and even wine are all produced in the East of England region: if we all make an effort to buy just a little bit more locally produced food, we are moving in the right direction.

5 Buy seasonal: All the traditional Christmas foods are in season now

That’s why they are traditional!

Try pears and apples, jazzed up with Christmas spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Berry fruits – do you really want a watery, food-mile heavy strawberry from Spain? No, I didn’t think so. If you can’t face Christmas without a berry fruit, whizz out this week and track down some Scottish raspberries –they freeze well and will have a better flavour than any strawberry you can buy at this time of year. Cambridge Carbon Footprint newsletter has a monthly seasonal food recipe: Sign up at

6 Buy for good keeping qualities

Unwashed root veg wrapped in newspaper and stored in a cool shed or bottom of the fridge, Brussels sprouts on a stick: all will keep up to 2 weeks.

Buy nuts in their shells: I finished the last of the Christmas 2008 walnuts which I bought in their shells in March!!

Buy a sourdough bread loaf for your turkey sandwiches which will keep for several days and is better quality and flavour than a factory loaf from the supermarket.

7 Buddy up for Christmas!

Invite a neighbour who lives alone to share your meal. If you’ve got a houseful, you can probably turn the heating down or even off during the meal - you’d be amazed how much body heat is generated by eating!

8 Eco friendly kitchen tips

Defrost food overnight: it’s cheaper and better for the food than blasting in the microwave.

Use a timer and an oven thermometer for good results-you don’t want to waste food and effort by burning or overcooking it.

Watch your cooker settings: boil veg on a lower simmer and cover the pot, or use a pressure cooker – both these choices use less fuel and cook food just as effectively as an uncovered, fast boiling pan.

Put cooking pots and pans to soak in water as soon as you’ve finished cooking: food deposits come off easier with less need for polluting detergents.

If you use one, load the dishwasher fully before running, to make the most of the energy it uses.

Have a fabulously green festive season!
By Jacky Sutton-Adam

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